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The History and Heritage of Western Illinois University

Founded in 1899, the Western Illinois State Normal School was established to address teacher preparation in the state’s grammar schools. The faculty and students of Western were eager to meet this need, and the institution soon became known for its well-rounded, deeply committed graduates, a tradition that continues.

As the years passed and the name was changed to Western Illinois State Teachers College in 1921 and then to Western Illinois University in 1957, the institution’s mission continually broadened to include academic majors that prepared high school teachers; the state’s earliest and most successful extension program; a multifaceted graduate school; a liberal arts program; and, eventually, distinguished colleges devoted to Arts and Sciences, Business and Technology, Education and Human Services, and Fine Arts and Communication.

Throughout time, and most recently as Western celebrated 50 years as a University during academic year 2007–2008, we have earned and maintained a reputation for expanding public access to affordable, high-quality degree programs and fostering student involvement in University activities.

We are now a leading University with a residential campus in Macomb, a metropolitan, non-residential campus in the Quad Cities, and extension and distance learning programs. With an outstanding, diverse faculty and staff committed to multicultural and international education, Western Illinois University offers undergraduate and graduate programs of study to approximately 12,500 students from Illinois, across the nation, and around the world.