History: Mandated by the 1850 State Constitution, Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. It was the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and the prototype for the entire land-grant system created when President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862. The act granted lands to each loyal state to support a college “where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts . . . in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.”
In 1857 the college opened with three buildings, five faculty members, and 63 male students. The inital battle over core cirriculum was solved in 1860, when former MSU president Joseph R. Williams became the state's acting lieutenant governor and helped pass the Reorganization Act of 1861. This act gave MSU a four-year curriculum and the power to grant master's degrees.
In an impressive show of patriotism that symbolizes the best of Spartan principals, in 1861 the entire first class of 63 left the school before their graduation ceremony to enlist and fight in the Union Army. They all graduated from MSU in absentia.
The college first admitted women in 1870 and they took the same rigorous scientific agriculture courses as male students. In 1899 the college admitted its first African American student, William O. Thompson. He went on to teach at what is now Tuskegee University under the mentorship of Booker T. Washington.
Over the years, the official names of Michigan State University have evolved to reflect the growth of the institution
1855: Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
1861: State Agricultural College
1909: Michigan Agricultural College
1925: Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science
1955: Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science
1964: Michigan State University
Location: MSU's main campus is located in East Lansing, about three miles from the Michigan State Capital. The campus is perched on the banks of the Red Cedar River. Most of the city of East Lansing lies within Ingham County; though a small portion is in Clinton County. The original post office address was "Agricultural College, Michigan". In 1907 the city was incorporated, proposed under the name "College Park"; the legislature approved the charter but changed the name to "East Lansing".
The original settlement of East Lansing began around 1847; the same year nearby Lansing was made the capital of the state of Michigan. It was an important junction of two major Indian trails: the Okemah Road, and the Park Lake Trail. By 1850, the Lansing and Howell Plank Road Company was established to connect a toll road to the Detroit and Lansing, which cut right through what is now East Lansing.
MSU has the eighth largest student body in the U.S. The student body is 55% female and 45% male. While 89% of students come from all 83 counties in the State of Michigan, also represented are all 50 states in the U.S. and about 125 other countries.
Mascot: They call themselves Spartans. They were originally known as Aggies until 1925. It was that year the school held a contest to determine a new nickname. When the winning entry (Staters) was not acceptable to local sportswriters, they selected Spartans instead. An interesting coincidence and side note: Justin Morrill (sponsor of the 1862 Morrill Act) had once compared the Land Grant colleges he was helping establish to the schools of ancient Sparta.
If you have ever been to a MSU sporting event, you have likely seen the costumed version of the Michigan State Spartan, named appropriately enough: Sparty. He has been a staple at MSU athletic events since 1989 and has been named ESPN’s Mascot of the Year three times and was nominated to the Mascot Hall of Fame. Sparty has also been voted the "Buffest Mascot" by Muscle and Fitness magazine and he appeared on the front cover of the Wii edition of the NCAA Football 09. This was the first time a non-athlete has graced the cover of the popular game.
There are also two statues of a proud Spartan warrior displayed on campus. The outdoor bronze version was introduced in 2005 after the original terra cotta was moved indoors to protect it from the elements and vandals. It is common for alumni and Spartan fans to have a picture taken with the statue to mark major life events. During graduation season there is a steady stream of recent graduates and their families posing with the statue. On weekends it is not uncommon to see newly married couples doing the same. After the final home football game the Spartan Marching Band circles the statue three times before heading home to Adams Field.
Colors/Logo/Helmet: Michigan State wears green and white. Only one of four NCAA BCS football schools to wear this unique combination. The association with green goes as far back as 1899, where records of the Michigan Agricultural College show the athletic association took steps to adopt a green monogram, "to be worn only by athletes who subsequently take part in intercollegiate events." It is generally accepted the colors became official with the arrival in 1903 of Chester L. Brewer as the school's first athletic director.
As far as logos, MSU has one of the most recognizable in the NCAA, the Spartan warrior helmet. It is featured on their current football helmets.
Speaking of helmets, not many people know this, the winged football helmet actually debuted at Michigan State College on September 30, 1933 -- two years before Fritz Crisler ordered the helmets out of the Spalding catalog for Princeton University, and five years before they were introduced at University of Michigan.
Fight Song: MSU's fight song was written in 1915 and was copyrighted in 1919. A cheerleader named Francis Irving Lankey, along with lyricist Arthur Sayles, created the song by combining original lyrics with the melody from a hymn called "Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus". The lyrics from the original song have changed as the name of the school has been changed.
On the banks of the Red Cedar,
There's a school that's known to all;
Its specialty is winning,
And those Spartans play good ball;
Spartan teams are never beaten,
All through the game they'll fight;
Fight for the only colors:
Green and White.
Go right through for MSU,
Watch the points keep growing,
Spartan teams are bound to win,
They're fighting with a vim!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
See their team is weakening,
We're going to win this game,
Fight! Fight! Rah! Team, Fight!
Victory for MSU!
Academics: Michigan State offers over 200 academic programs, and is well known for its education and agriculture programs. MSU has the premier hospitality school in the United States, and the study abroad program is the largest of any single-campus university in the nation, offering more than 60 countries on all continents including Antarctica.
Michigan State is ranked in the Top 100 National Universities in the United States by US News and World Report. In that same report, MSU is ranked an impressive second out of the eight schools within the State of Michigan.
Football Program: Michigan State started playing football in September of 1896. They won their first ever game 10-0 against Lansing High School.
Following World War II, The University of Chicago decided to de-emphasize athletics and resigned from the Big Ten in 1946. Seeking to fill this void, Michigan State lobbied hard and was admitted into the conference in 1949. Clarence "Biggie" Munn turned the Spartans to a national football power. In its 113-year football history, Michigan State has won six national championships according to the list of major selectors recognized by the NCAA, including three consensus titles (1952, 1965 and 1966).
The most famous game in Michigan State history was the 1966 Notre Dame game at Spartan Stadium. It was dubbed "The Game of the Century", but it also became one of the most controversial in history. Michigan State entered the contest 9-0 and ranked #2, while Notre Dame came to East Lansing with an 8-0 record and ranked #1. The game ended with Notre Dame electing to run out the clock on the final series accepting a 10-10 tie.
The Spartans have produced many professional football players, including Hall of Famers Joe DeLamielleure and Herb Adderley. New Arizona Diamondback manager and Detroit Tiger legend Kirk Gibson was an all-American flanker receiver for the Spartans.
Michigan State football teams have appeared in 20 postseason bowl games, including eight New Year’s Day games.They won the 1988 Rose Bowl over USC with led by the NFL's #2 pick Tony Mandrich.
Mark Dantonio became Michigan State University’s 24th head football coach in November of 2006. Dantonio has led Michigan State to three-straight bowl appearances – a first for the program since 1995-97. He has already won 22 games, the second most by any Spartan head coach in his first three seasons. Dantonio spent three years as defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel at Ohio State (2001-03) where he helped the Buckeyes to a combined record of 32-6 (.842), including the 2002 National Championship.
Other sports: Michigan State has one of nation's premier basketball programs led by Coach Tom Izzo. They have won two NCAA titles and have been to countless Final Fours. MSU has produced many NBA all stars, led by Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
The Spartan hockey team is also a national power with three NCAA titles and dozens of NHL players over the last couple of years. In the late 1960’s their men’s soccer team won consecutive national titles.
Famous alums: Michigan State has close to 500,000 alums worldwide. Famous former Spartans include the first woman to parachute from an airplane, Fay Gillis Wells. They also claim movie actor James Caan, TV actor Robert Urich, and Dateline NBC correspondent Chris Hansen. In the world of business, they claim Bistol Myers Squib CEO James M. Cornelius and Meijer President and CEO, Mark Murray. Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert both graduated from MSU.
In the world of sports, baseball Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. Pro football all stars Bubba Smith and Carl Banks and MLB all-star Steve Garvey all played football at Michigan State (Garvey also played baseball). As you would expect from a basketball power, there are plenty of NBA stars including Scott Skiles, Steve Smith, Kevin Willis, and Jason Richardson.
Michigan State has not yet produced a United States President or NASA astronaut, but I am sure they are working on it.
The Game: This is the most anticipated Michigan/Michigan State game in my lifetime. MSU has a good senior QB, a couple of good recievers, and a trio of running backs that can really gash us. On defense, they are led by an All American linebacker. Add in the emotional lift they will get from a coach returning from a heart attack -- and it does not look very good for us. I hope we win, but given the state of our defense I am not very confident Denard can do it all against these guys.
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