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History of the University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut was founded in 1881 as the Storrs Agricultural School through a legislative act of the Connecticut legislature. The act was signed into law on April 21, 1881, which is observed as Founders’ Day. The agricultural school was established through a gift from Augustus and Charles Storrs, two Connecticut-born businessmen who were raised in Mansfield. They provided 170 acres of land, which included a four-story former orphanage and some barns and sheds, and $5,000 for equipment and supplies.
The school opened in the fall of 1881 with about a dozen boys making up the student body, and three faculty members, including the principal of the school. Offering a two-year certificate to boys ages 15 to 18, the school graduated its first students in 1883. Women began attending classes, unofficially, in 1890, and a legislative act in 1893 made their enrollment official.
The school went through several name changes and re-organizations (1893 – Storrs Agricultural College; 1899 – Connecticut Agricultural College; 1933 – Connecticut State College) before becoming the University of Connecticut in 1939.
Formerly departments and then divisions, schools and colleges were organized in 1940. The Schools of Law and Pharmacy were acquired in the 1940s; the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine began classes in the late 1960s.
The Husky was chosen as the Connecticut mascot in 1934 and in 1935 a student poll selected the name Jonathan for the mascot. Both canine and costumed mascots represent the University at athletic and other University events.
There are three published histories of the University:
- Connecticut Agricultural College – A History (The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, New Haven: 1931) – a narrative written for the 50th anniversary of CAC by college editor Walter Stemmons.
- University of Connecticut – The College History Series (Arcadia Publishing, 2001) – a photographic history written by Mark J. Roy (CLAS, ’74), formerly of University Communications.
- Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits: Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006 (UPNE/Connecticut, 2006) – a narrative history written for the 125th anniversary of the University with focus on the period after 1931, written by Bruce Stave, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus.