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Wayne State University’s story begins in 1868 with the founding of the Detroit Medical College, now the School of Medicine. In 1881, the Detroit Normal Training School was established, which is now the College of Education. The now-iconic Old Main Hall was built in 1896 as Central High School, which began adding college classes in 1913. Those classes evolved into the Detroit Junior College (offering a two-year general education program) in 1917, which became the College of the City of Detroit (with four-year degree programs) in 1923, and now is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In 1924, the College of Pharmacy was organized, and six years later the first regular graduate courses were offered in liberal arts and education. Frank Cody became the first president in 1933, with the existing colleges united into a university organization, eventually named Wayne University, taken from Wayne County in honor of General Anthony Wayne.

Wayne University continued to grow, adding the School of Social Work, the Law School, and the School of Business Administration. In 1956, it was renamed Wayne State University. In 1963, Wayne State was designated one of Michigan’s three constitutionally established universities.


1868 – The Detroit Medical College, forerunner of the School of Medicine, was established.

1881 – The Detroit Normal Training School, forerunner of the College of Education, was established.

1917 – The Detroit Junior College, offering a two-year program in general education, was established in 'Old Main' and later developed into the College of Liberal Arts.

1923 – The Detroit Normal Training School became a four-year degree-granting institution under the name of the Detroit Teachers College. The first degrees were granted in 1924. The Detroit Junior College became the College of the City of Detroit with four-year degree programs. The first degrees were conferred in 1925.

1924 – The College of Pharmacy was organized.

1930 – The first regular graduate courses were offered in Liberal Arts and Education. The first master's degrees were conferred in 1932.

1933 – The College of Engineering and the Graduate School were established.

1933 – The Colleges of Liberal Arts, Education, Engineering, Medicine and Pharmacy and the Graduate School were united by action of the Detroit Board of Education into a university organization, temporarily called the Colleges of the City of Detroit.

1934 – The name Wayne University was adopted, taken from Wayne County and, ultimately, from General Anthony Wayne.

1935 – The School of Public Affairs and Social Work was organized. In 1950 it became the present School of Social Work.

1937 – The Law School, established in 1927 as Detroit City Law School, became part of the university.

1945 – The first doctoral programs were authorized in the fields of Chemistry, Physiological Chemistry and Education.

1945 – The College of Nursing, which began as a program in the College of the City of Detroit, became a separate college.

1946 – The School of Business Administration, originating in the College of Liberal Arts, became the 10th academic unit in the university.

1956 – Wayne University became Wayne State University by Act 183 of Michigan Public Acts of 1956.

1959 – Monteith College was established.

1959 - Wayne State University became a constitutionally established university by popularly adopted amendment to the Michigan Constitution.

1964 – The Division of Urban Extension was established.

1973 – The College of Lifelong Learning was established as successor to the Division of Urban Extension.

1974 – The College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions was formed from merger of the College of Pharmacy and the Division of Allied Health Professions, School of Medicine.

1985 – The School of Fine and Performing Arts and the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs were established.

1989 – The name of the School of Fine and Performing Arts was changed to the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts.

1993 – The College of Science was established.

2003 – The College of Lifelong Learning joined the College of Urban Labor and Metropolitan Affairs.

2004 – The College of Science and The College of Liberal Arts merged to form The College of Liberal Arts and Science.

2005 – The College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

2008 – The Irvin D. Reid Honors college was created.

2009 – The School of Library and Information Science was created. 

2011 – The Warrior football team made its first appearance in the NCAA Division II championship game.