Vincennes University

For the similarly named university in Paris known as The Université de Vincennes à Saint-Denis, see Paris 8 University.
Vincennes University
Former name
Jefferson Academy
Type public coeducational
Established 1801 (details)
President Charles "Chuck" Johnson
Students 4,522
Undergraduates 4,522
Location Vincennes, Indiana, USA
Campus 4 Campuses
2 Small Cities
1 Small Town
1 Large City
Taglines "Indiana's first college"
"Higher learning, lower cost"

Vincennes University (VU) 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 the Northwest Territory and in Indiana. Since 1889, VU has been a two-year university, although baccalaureate degrees in seven select areas are available. Unlike most other two-year higher-education institutions, however, the VU's campus in Vincennes is a residential campus and has been since its establishment. VU was chartered in 1806 as the Indiana Territory's four-year university and remained the state of Indiana's sole publicly funded four-year university until the establishment of Indiana University in 1820. From 1999 to 2005, Vincennes University was in a state-mandated partnership with what became the Ivy Tech Community College.[1]

In 2011, Vincennes University opened the $12 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing located near Fort Branch, Indiana. The facility significantly enhances the training facilities currently in existence at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Plant between Fort Branch and Princeton as well as at the Gibson Generating Station, near Mount Carmel, Illinois, to meet the regional growth of demand with the expanding industry both in Gibson County and in the immediate Evansville area.[2]


Vincennes University offers a diverse set of majors that are focused on careers in teaching and industry. Vincennes University has a 24% graduation rate.[3]

Vincennes University is organized into six colleges:

VU financial aid

Vincennes University provides several financial aid opportunities for its students. Apart from the common federal aids, the university also offers following aids:[4]

Buildings of the Vincennes University

Vincennes - Main Campus

(On Eastern Time)



Jasper Campus

(On Eastern Time)

Indianapolis Campus

(On Eastern Time)

Fort Branch / Gibson County Campus

(On Central Time)


History at a glance
Jefferson Academy Established 1801
Type four-year private
Vincennes University Renamed 1806
Type four-year territorial land-grant
Rechartered 1889
Type two-year state-funded

Founding as Indiana Territory's University

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 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:[8] "...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.[9]

To clarify the mission of VU vis a vis Indiana's other institutions of higher education at the time-Purdue University, the State Normal School and Indiana University, the State of Indiana rechartered VU in 1889, changing from a four-year university to a two-year one.

Tau Phi Delta and the Sigma Pi Fraternity

Main article: Sigma Pi

In 1897, a small literary society called Tau Phi Delta (ΤΦΔ) was started at VU, which soon after became the founding ("Alpha") chapter of Sigma Pi (ΣΠ) Fraternity, making that organization the first of its kind to be founded west of the Ohio Valley. A clock tower on the VU campus commemorates that event. The fraternity has since grown into one of the largest collegiate fraternities and, despite having relocated its headquarters to Tennessee, recognizes VU as its birthplace. The VU chapter is still active today and counts among its members some of the University's most famous and successful alumni, including three VU Presidents. VU, by special exception granted by the National Interfraternity Council, is the only 2-year school with a national fraternity chapter.

Relationship with Ivy Tech Community College

In 1999, Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon and Stan Jones, commissioner for higher education, persuaded the Indiana state legislature to mandate a "coordinated partnership" between Vincennes University and what was then called Ivy Tech State College (1). Writing for a national publication, reporter William Trombley characterized the "shotgun marriage" as something that was spoken of cautiously by officials at both institutions: "It was not our initiative," Vincennes President Phillip M. Summers said in an interview. "We were asked if we would participate and we agreed".[10] Thomas Cooke, dean of instruction at the Ivy Tech Indianapolis campus, said "We have everything except the liberal arts degree . . . And that could be easily accommodated within our present structure" (4).[1] This tenuous arrangement was dissolved by the 2005 rechartering of Ivy Tech State College as a statewide system of comprehensive community colleges named Ivy Tech Community College.


VU is a member of the NJCAA. In honor of its local heritage, the VU team moniker is the Trailblazers. Trailblazers refers to the early years of Vincennes as a French fur-trading post and American outpost in the frontier of the Northwest Territory and its later period as capital of the Indiana Territory. When the Trailblazers moniker needs to be personified by a mascot, VU depicts a Trailblazer as minute man or woodsman-type frontier settler, inspired by such as George Rogers Clark who resided in Indiana after his military career.

The VU Trailblazers compete in baseball, bowling, golf, basketball, cross country, volleyball, swimming, diving, and track and field. Its bowling team is particularly well known as it has won 21 NJCAA national championships. The men's bowling team won the 1983 USBC collegiate national championship.

Broadcasting Facilities - Public Service Division

Low-Power Radio Stations

96.7 WFML "Classic Rock to the Max"


87.9 WROL Mix 87.9

Main High-Power Radio Station

91.1 WVUB "The Blazer"

Television Stations

PBS 22/52 WVUT

MKZ 234/11

Notable alumni


  1. 1 2 "National CrossTalk - Vol. 8 / No. 1 - Winter 2000". Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  2. Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "Vincennes University Admissions, Application, Demographics | College". College Stats. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  4. "VU Financial Aid". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  5. "Architectural Services & Facilities" (PDF). Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  6. "Indiana State Museum". Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  7. Archived November 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Archived September 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Archived May 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Trombley, William. "Indiana's New Community College Plan: A state-mandated partnership between Ivy Tech and Vincennes University is seen by some as a shotgun marriage." National CrossTalk: A Publication for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Vol. 8. No. 1 (Winter 2000). 1-9.
  11. Archived September 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "Hall Of Fame". Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  13. Archived February 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Archived December 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "Eric Williams". 1972-07-17. Retrieved 2015-05-14.

Coordinates: 38°41′14″N 87°31′12″W / 38.687084°N 87.52003°W / 38.687084; -87.52003

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