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Home University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls
23rd and College Streets

The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) was founded in 1876 as the Iowa State Normal School. It was established to fill the need for qualified public school teachers in Iowa.

The School originally occupied the former Iowa Soldiers' Orphans Home building (later "Central Hall"), which stood to the southwest of the present Lang Hall (also known as the Auditorium, built in 1905). Other buildings on the early campus included South Hall (1883), later "old" Gilchrist Hall, the Old Administration Building (1895) and the President's Cottage (1890), now the Ethnic Minorities Cultural and Educational Center. Of these, only the President's Cottage and Lang Hall survive.

James Gilchrist was the School's first principal. Other original faculty was Moses Bartlett, David Sands Wright, and Frances Webster. The first class included 27 students, housed in a single building on the 40-acre campus.

Today the University enrolls about 11,000 students, with a faculty and staff of about 1,700 people. Its original mission has expanded to include undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business, the liberal arts and other fields, as well as education. Prominent modern landmarks include the Campanile, the University Library, the Education Center, the UNI-Dome and the Speech/Art Complex.

A detailed UNI campus map and walking tour guide is available at the Office of Public Information Services, 169 Gilchrist Hall. For information about the University call 273-2761, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The University Archives is located in the University Library's Special Collections area. Call 273-6307 for information about the collection.

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Last updated Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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