February 12, 1855: Michigan State University was established in East Lansing, Michigan. According to recent figures, MSU has 3,000 Jewish undergrads out of a total of 36,000 students and 500 Jewish grad students out of a total of 10,000 graduate students. MSU offers approximately 25 Jewish Studies courses as well as a Major in Jewish Studies. The university offers a study program in Israel and is home to a Hillel chapter.
As the first agricultural college in the United States, the school served as a prototype for future land-grant institutions under the Morrill Act enacted during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. The school’s first class graduated in 1861 right after the onset of the American Civil War. That same year, the Michigan Legislature approved a plan to allow the school to adopt a four-year curriculum and grant degrees comparable to those of the University of Michigan (U-M).
In 1955, the United States issued a 3-cent postage stamp (Scott No. 1065) commemorating “Michigan State College” – MSU’s original name and Pennsylvania State College as the first of the Land-Grant Colleges.