Ypsilanti: Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University was first founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School. This school was created to be a place to educate students to become teachers in the state of Michigan as there was a large demand for teachers in all of the new towns that were being created during this time. The first building was completed in 1852 at the cost of $15,200. The first term began in 1853 with around 120 students enrolled, to be admitted you had to be a male above the age of 18 or a female above the age of 16, as well as signing a written statement that said you intend on teaching in schools in Michigan. (Sesquicentennial Committee 4-5)

Corner of Campus, MSNC

In the early 1900s the Normal began expanding, being renamed as the Michigan State Normal College, with enrollment now over 1,000 and a new four-year program it became the first four-year teacher preparatory program in the United States. Many buildings were made during this time such as their first gymnasium as well as Pease Auditorium. It was during this time that they first adopted their own mascot as well, the “Hurons”. With the increase of wealth in Michigan from the auto industries massive growth there was also many benefits for the Normal College, with enrollment breaking 2,000 students before the Great Depression. (Sesquicentennial Committee 14, 26)


After World War 2 many veterans looked towards the Normal College to get an education, so much so that there was a housing shortage and many students could not find places to stay in Ypsilanti. Many of these students ended up staying at the temporary housing that was set up at the Willow Run plant which now had vacancies since wartime production of bombers had been halted. Even more enrollment after the veterans of the Korean War had come to the Normal College allowed it to become Eastern Michigan College in 1956 and then Eastern Michigan University in 1959. Eastern Michigan University also changed their mascot in 1991 to the Eagles. Over the next 55 years Eastern Michigan University has expanded to enrollment of over 20,000 students and is still well known for its highly ranked College of Education.

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