On February 18, 1857, Governor William Bissell of Illinois signed a bill creating a normal school and establishing the Board of Education of the State of Illinois as its governing body. The bill stipulated that the permanent location would be the place that offered the most favorable inducements. Jesse W. Fell took up the campaign for Bloomington and obtained financial backing totaling $141,000. Abraham Lincoln, acting as attorney for the board, drew up the bond guaranteeing the Bloomington citizens would fulfill their financial pledges.
Illinois State Normal University was consequently founded as the first public institution of higher education in the state. Established as a teacher education institution, Illinois State has developed into a multipurpose university with degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
The University is one of 12 public universities in Illinois. Its 34 academic departments offer more than 160 fields of undergraduate study in the Colleges of Applied Science and Technology, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Fine Arts, and the Mennonite College of Nursing. The Graduate School coordinates 40 master’s, 32 certificate, one specialist, and 10 doctoral programs. The University’s academic programs are supported by the services and collections of Milner Library, which contains more than 3 million holdings and special collections.
The University enrolls students from throughout Illinois, 47 states and territories, and 74 countries. Students are mentored by faculty members dedicated to superior teaching, including numerous teacher-scholars recognized at national and international levels for their research and contributions to their field.
Conveniently located in Central Illinois, the University is situated at the intersection of three major highways, as well as along the Chicago-St. Louis railroad corridor. Due to its easy access in a region of strong economic growth and its multidimensional profile, Illinois State is able to respond to the varied needs and interests of its constituents and to contribute to the development of its students as responsible citizens.