ASU History

ASU History ASU Mission A New American University

Arizona State University is one of the premier metropolitan research universities in the nation, an institution of international scope, committed to excellence in teaching, research, and public service. Established in Tempe in 1885 by an act of the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature, ASU was initially formed as a teachers college. The core of the Tempe campus was a twenty-acre cow pasture donated by leading citizens who sought an institution to train public school teachers, and provide instruction to their sons and daughters in agriculture and the mechanical arts.

The name of the institution changed three times during its first fifteen years, becoming the Normal School of Arizona in 1901. Subsequent changes were associated with expansions of the curriculum and degrees offered. In rapid succession Tempe State Teachers College became Arizona State Teachers College, and, in 1945, Arizona State College. By 1958 the college performed all the functions of a university, and received authorization by an act of the governor to become Arizona State University.


Established 1885
President Michael M. Crow,
16th president
Colors Maroon and Gold
Mascot Sparky
Nickname The Sun Devils
First graduate degree offered
Masters in Education, 1937
ASU's West campus Opened 1986
ASU's Polytechnic campus Opened 1996
ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus
Opened 2006

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Basic and applied research preceded attainment of university status in 1958, but the development of new academic programs and library holdings, and the conferral of doctoral degrees in the 1960s led the Carnegie Foundation to grant ASU Research I status in 1994. Today research at ASU spans the spectrum of disciplines in the humanities, the natural sciences, the social sciences, the visual and performing arts, and the fields of technology, complemented by distinguished professional programs in such fields as architecture and environmental design, business, and law. ASU today is poised to become a global center for innovative interdisciplinary research.

On July 1, 2002, Michael M. Crow became the sixteenth president of Arizona State University. In his inaugural address, President Crow outlined his vision for the transformation of Arizona State University into a prototype for a new American university.

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