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Vincennes University

Vincennes University is a public university in Vincennes, Indiana, in the United States. Founded in 1801 as Jefferson Academy, VU is the oldest public institution of higher learning in Indiana.


1002 N First St
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Mission Statement
Vincennes University, Indiana"s first college, is the State"s premier transfer institution and leader in innovative career programming. The VU community ensures educational access, delivers proven associate and baccalaureate programs, and offers cultural opportunities and community services in a diverse, student-centered, collegiate environment.
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College History


Vincennes University is one of the oldest universities north of the Ohio River and west of the Alleghenies. The institution was founded in 1801 as Jefferson Academy and incorporated as Vincennes University on November 29, 1806. Founded by William Henry Harrison, VU is one of only two U.S. colleges founded by a President of the United States; the other is the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson. For over two-hundred years, VU was historically the only two-year university in Indiana, although baccalaureate degrees in seven select areas are now available and were available prior to 1889. Vincennes University, also known colloquially as Territorial University during the early 19th century, was the first and only land-grant public university established by the Indiana Territory, prior to the formation of the states of Indiana and Illinois. The town of Vincennes was chosen as the location of both the capital of the Indiana Territory and of VU because Vincennes was centrally located at the approximate population-density center of the Indiana Territory. Upon the later formation of the Illinois Territory in 1809 in preparation for Indiana statehood, Vincennes fell slightly east of the State of Indiana/Illinois Territory border. As territorial policy progressed through the formation of the Illinois Territory in 1809 (which drastically reduced the size of the Indiana Territory that VU served), the formation of the State of Indiana in 1816 (which considered itself an entirely new and separate legal entity from Indiana Territory that created VU), and the formation of the State of Illinois in 1818, funding for Vincennes University became less and less certain because VU was considered to be owned by the now-defunct Indiana Territory. Because of Vincennes� status as the capital of the Indiana Territory complete with a federally recognized territorial land-grant university, the Indiana territorial capital of Vincennes figured prominently in the early Indiana-Illinois territorial and statehood policy. For example, on February 3, 1809, the Tenth U.S. Congress passed legislation establishing the separate Indiana Territory in preparation for Indiana�s proposed statehood. That Act established the Indiana-Illinois border not with reference to a landmark along Lake Michigan near Chicago, but rather via direct reference to Vincennes: �...all that part of the Indiana Territory which lies west of the Wabash river, and a direct line drawn from the said Wabash river and Post Vincennes, due north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada...� State of Indiana�s State University Further complicating the question of funding for VU was the State of Indiana's desire to establish its own state-controlled public university in Bloomington, Indiana as a separate institution from the Territorial University. Until the establishment of Indiana University, Vincennes University, as a territory-controlled institution, was the sole public university within the entire Indiana Territory and then more narrowly within the state of Indiana. The State of Indiana and the State of Illinois partially abandoned their financial responsibility for Territorial University once they established their own separate public universities without the legal complications of an institution whose legal control perhaps spanned the borders of at least two states and had been established by a defunct governmental entity. Conversely, these complications also set the stage for VU's rich two-century long history with some of the most architecturally-significant beautiful early 19th-century buildings to be found at any two-year institution in the U.S. In the mid-19th century, the Indiana state legislature tried to reclaim the original VU land grant, to be used for what would become Indiana University. The resulting lawsuit (Trustees for Vincennes University v Indiana, 1853) ended up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, who decided in VU's favor, based on its earlier decision in a similar case regarding Dartmouth College. The legal dispute arose in part because a portion of VU's status as a land-grant public university derived from the fact that VU is the inheritor of the land-grant and facilities of Territorial University. To clarify the mission of VU vis a vis Indiana's other institutions of higher education at the time�Indiana University, Purdue University, and the State Normal School�, the State of Indiana rechartered VU in 1889, changing from a four-year university to a two-year one.

College Specialty


Vincennes University, Indiana�s first college, is the State�s premier transfer institution and leader in innovative career programming. The VU community ensures educational access, delivers proven associate and baccalaureate programs, and offers cultural opportunities and community services in a diverse, student-centered, collegiate environment. The Vincennes University Mission Statement was revised in 2005 by a committee which gathered input from the VU community as well as examining the roles of the University.



Jerry Reynolds - former NBA Coach, General Manager; current broadcaster for Sacramento Kings Bob McAdoo - former NBA player, NBA Hall of Fame Carl Landry - NBA, currently with the Sacramento Kings Curtis G. Shake - Jurist, Politician, 72nd Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, State Senator, and one of the Judges of the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals -Sigma Pi David Goodnow - CNN news anchor, retired Eric Williams (basketball) - NBA, Charlotte Bobcats John Mellencamp - Musician; dropped out, did not graduate Mario Joyner - stand-up comedian & actor Rickey Green - NJCAA basketball hall of fame Shawn Marion - NBA, Dallas Mavericks William Gainey - first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SEAC) Clarence "Foots" Walker - Former NBA Basketball Player