Back To Top

A tradition of opportunity

University Hall on the Purdue University campus.

University Hall, foreground, is the only building remaining from the original six that stood when Purdue University first opened its doors in 1874. (Purdue University photo)

How Purdue’s founding mission guided its evolution and lives on today

Purdue University was created to serve – to serve the people of Indiana and beyond through research, teaching and engagement. It also serves its students through access to a world-class education. This legacy dates back to the passage of the Morrill Act in 1862, and it lives on today.

This series of stories will outline how Purdue has evolved through the years in accordance with its founding as a land-grant university. Learn about some of the key people and events that shaped Purdue’s evolution, building an internationally renowned university that will continue meeting challenges and serving its state and nation well into the future.

Learn about Purdue’s inspirational founding mission:


Purdue Global, PPHS carry on tradition that dates back to Purdue’s founding

Nearly 45 years after she attended her first class on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, Cynthia Walker Middleton finished what she started by completing an online degree in business administration through Purdue Global. Justin Marvin enrolled at Purdue Global with …

Statue of John Purdue on the Purdue University campus.

What is a land-grant university?

What makes Purdue and its 111 land-grant peers different from other colleges and universities?

George Wodicka, right, led Purdue’s biomedical engineering program for 23 years before stepping down in 2021.

Why Purdue is unique among land-grant institutions

Purdue distinguishes itself through its focus on collaborative, multidisciplinary research that is increasingly important to solving society’s most pressing issues.

Purdue Polytechnic High School offers its students a unique pathway to acceptance at Purdue University.

Purdue remains nimble and driven toward the future

Evolving alongside society is necessary for any land-grant institution that wishes to deliver upon its promise.

Vic Lechtenberg speaks into a microphone at a Purdue event.

Land-grant legacy came full circle for two Purdue leaders 

In Vic Lechtenberg’s view, leading Purdue’s outreach efforts was his way of repaying the land-grant system that benefited his family.

Betty Nelson, former Purdue dean of students

Early advocacy paved way for Purdue’s thriving Disability Resource Center

It’s a source of endless pride for early advocates that today’s Boilermakers with disabilities have ample opportunities to succeed.

Current and former Purdue Women in Engineering Program directors Donna Frohreich McKenzie, Beth Holloway, Jane Zimmer Daniels and Marie McKee pose for a photo with Leah Jamieson, center, the university’s John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering from 2006-17.

Welcoming women engineers to Purdue

Only 47 Purdue women were enrolled in engineering in 1969. As of fall 2022, the number had increased to 4,193.