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Classes began at Purdue on September 16, 1874, with six instructors and 39 students. White, the university’s president from 1876 to 1883, followed a strict interpretation of the Morrill Act.Rather than emulate the classical universities, White believed that Purdue should be an "industrial college" and devote its resources toward providing a liberal (or broad) education with an emphasis on science, technology, and agriculture.As veterans returned to the university under the G. Bill, first-year classes were taught at some of these sites to alleviate the demand for campus space.Four of these sites are now degree-granting regional campuses of the Purdue University system. After the war, Hovde worked to expand the academic opportunities at the university.Purdue is a member of the Big Ten Conference and enrolls the second largest student body of any university in Indiana, as well as the fourth largest international student population of any university in the United States.In 1865, the Indiana General Assembly voted to take advantage of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862, and began plans to establish an institution with a focus on agriculture and engineering.
The official seal of Purdue was officially inaugurated during the university's centennial in 1969.Ross’s gifts and fundraisers supported such projects as Ross–Ade Stadium, the Memorial Union, a civil engineering surveying camp, and Purdue University Airport.Purdue Airport was the country’s first university-owned airport and the site of the country’s first college-credit flight training courses.Purdue’s on-campus housing became racially desegregated in 1947, following pressure from Purdue President Frederick L. A decade-long construction program emphasized science and research.In the late 1950s and early 1960s the university established programs in veterinary medicine, industrial management, and nursing, as well as the first computer science department in the United States.
Programs in education and home economics were soon established, as well as a short-lived school of medicine.