Chartered as a Land-Grant institution by the first regular session of the State Legislature on February 15, 1869, the University opened its doors to 20 collegiate students and 110 preparatory school pupils on September 7, 1871. Lincoln was then a raw prairie village of about 2,400 people.
University Hall, the original four-story building, stood on this site. Its lumber was hauled by wagon from Nebraska City; its brick made locally. It was finally razed in October, 1948.
Despite financial crises and ideological disputes, the University survived its early years and in 1886 inaugurated the first program of graduate instruction west of the Mississippi. Recognized for its high scholastic standards, the University was accorded membership in the Association of American Universities in 1908.
As a major institution of higher education, the University performed a key role in the early development of the State and continues now as a prime source of further Nebraska progress.