The United States boasts a large number of higher educational institutions. Many states deeded land to these institutions for research purposes, leading to large campuses. What’s the largest college campus in Indiana, what wildlife can you find in and around the campus, and how does it compare to other campuses in the state in size? Read on to learn this and more.
The Largest Campus in Indiana
The largest college campus in Indiana is Purdue University, at 2,539 acres. If you add the acreage of its other campuses and land for research purposes, it tops out at an incredible 18,676 acres!
How Did Purdue Come to Have So Much Land?
Many U.S. universities owe their existence to the Morrill Land Grant Acts. These federal acts allowed states to create colleges using funds from the sale of federal lands (often taken from indigenous peoples.) In 1865, Indiana’s general assembly voted to take advantage of these acts. They began to accept bids from communities and citizens for establishing a college focusing on engineering and agriculture. Tippecanoe County created a winning bid with the help of 100 acres from residents and a large donation from John Purdue, a local philanthropist and business leader.
By 1921, Purdue had obtained about 2,000 acres for farming and research. The Lafayette campus was already nearly 2,500 acres. An expansion and building program between World War I and II significantly increased Purdue’s land holdings. Private donations over the years added to these holdings. A 300-acre donation was made as recently as 2018.
Where is Purdue University Located?
Purdue University is located in West Lafayette, Indiana, about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis. It sits on the west bank of the Wabash River, which winds from western Ohio, cuts across the state, and wanders to the Ohio River west of Evansville.
Comparison to Other Large Indiana Campuses
|Purdue University||2,539 acres|
|Indiana University Bloomington||1,937 acres|
|University of Notre Dame||1,261 acres|
|Ball State University||1,140 acres|
|Indiana State University||435 acres|
Wildlife and Flora You May Encounter on Purdue’s Campus
Purdue’s main campus is in West Lafayette, IN, which is an urban area. The wooded areas of the campus still attract squirrels, rabbits, white-tailed deer, chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, and opossums. Birds in the region include cardinals, Canada geese, blue jays, house wrens, American robins, goldfinches, red-winged blackbirds, and common grackles. A student may also see an occasional turtle or frog. Bats make their way around the campus at dusk.
Throughout and around the campus, you may see several native plants, including purple coneflower, wild ginger, aromatic aster, wild columbine, and trumpet honeysuckle. The campus has an arboretum and a collection of trees, including various maple, buckeye, serviceberry, birch, and pawpaw trees.
The Morrill Land Grant Acts allowed the U.S. to jumpstart many colleges and universities. Due to the focus of these programs on agriculture and engineering, it was possible to continue to add land donations over the years, expanding the useful area of these institutions. Indiana’s Purdue University has accumulated these donations over the years to become the state’s largest college.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Stephen B. Goodwin/Shutterstock.com
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