Brief History

UNH Brief history

From its founding in 1866 as the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, the state's flagship public university has proudly pursued its founders' goal of "fostering an educated citizenry" in New Hampshire.

students in labFirst situated in Hanover in connection with Dartmouth College, New Hampshire College moved to Durham in 1893 after Benjamin Thompson, a prosperous farmer, bequeathed land and money to further the development of the college.

In 1893, Thompson Hall was completed, built with native granite and state-manufactured brick. That fall, with 37-year-old, former minister Charles S. Murkland at its helm, the College opened its doors in Durham. In his inaugural address, President Murkland spoke of the “full freedom of the highest intellectual fellowship,” committing the College to also embrace the liberal arts.

For more than a century thereafter, UNH grew exponentially as the GI Bill, the growth in academic fields of study, and expanding regional reputation brought waves of new students to the University’s campuses.

Professor May-Win Thein and studentsToday, UNH is not only a land-grant institution but also a designated sea- and space-grant University, and ranks among the top-tier research institutions nationally. The University comprises dozens of academic departments, interdisciplinary institutes, and research centers that attract students and faculty from around the world. As state-of-the-art facilities are built to support academic growth, and new residence and dining halls are built to meet the growing popularity of campus life, the University continues to rest lightly on old Ben Thompson's farm, where some 13,000 students and hundreds of faculty and staff live and work amid the rolling hills and riverbeds of one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation.

Related Links

Tour the Thompson Hall clock tower with Guy Eaton. Watch the video.

The Red Tower: The Story of Durham's Gilded Estate

A Scrapbook from 1919

One Man's Vision: Eric Huddleston's Legacy is the Campus We Know Today

Where the Wildcats Are: A History of Our Beloved Mascot

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The History of Forestry at UNH

Admissions Then and Now: A History of UNH Viewbooks

The Way We Were: Movie Night

The Way We Were: In 1966 a Mob Tried to Stop a Peaceful Protest

Tale of the Class of 1914 Student Body President From the Archives

The Pod Squad

Humoungus Fungus

A Notch Above the Rest: Historical Notes from the New Hampshire Outing Club—Oldest Student Organization on Campus

Faculty Potato Patch of 1917-1918

The Scammell Grange: History on Main Street

Cents and Sensibility: Benjamin Thompson

Extreme Makeover: Thompson Hall Renovation

The Professor Who Fell Out the Window and Other Stories:

Pranks a Million