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Campus History

UMD's Old Main

UMD at 125

The University of Minnesota Duluth will be celebrating its 125th anniversary throughout 2020. Please watch this space for updates on events and ways to get involved!

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Land Acknowledgment

We collectively acknowledge that the University of Minnesota Duluth is located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous people. The University resides on land that was cared for and called home by the Ojibwe people, before them the Dakota and Northern Cheyenne people, and other Native peoples from time immemorial. Ceded by the Ojibwe in an 1854 treaty, this land holds great historical, spiritual, and personal significance for its original stewards, the Native nations and peoples of this region. We recognize and continually support and advocate for the sovereignty of the Native nations in this territory and beyond. By offering this land acknowledgment, we affirm tribal sovereignty and will work to hold the University of Minnesota Duluth accountable to American Indian peoples and nations.

Duluth State Normal School/Duluth State Teachers College: 1895-1946

Students in a home economics class at the Duluth Normal School

The Minnesota State Legislature first authorized a Normal School (for the education of teachers) in 1895. The Normal School’s first building, the elegant, three-story Old Main, was completed before the school opened in 1902. Students of the era ranged from rural school teachers without high-school degrees to professional educators who had attended college.

Students at the Duluth Normal School

As the neighborhood grew up around the Normal School, students had the opportunity to practice their skills in a model school. Children came to school over unpaved streets in horse-drawn buses or by horseback.  Occasionally a stray cow would be attracted to the new lawn, only to be rounded up and impounded behind Old Main.

A historical photo of a theater

With the addition of dormitories Torrance and Washburn Hall in 1906 and 1910, the Normal School became a residential college. Students kept busy with teas, picnics and theater productions. They often entertained in the dormitories, hosting Halloween parties and dressing up in costume for the May festival.

The Normal School became the Duluth State Teachers College in 1921, and offered its first Bachelor of Education degree in 1923.

University of Minnesota Duluth: 1947-present

The science building under construction

In 1947, with the influx of returning veterans attending college on the GI Bill, the Minnesota legislature approved that the Duluth State Teachers college become the Duluth Branch of the University of Minnesota. While most campus activities still took place on the lower campus, the administration made plans to build a new campus on the current parcel of land west of Woodland Avenue.

By the early 1950's, student life began to shift to the upper campus with the addition of a new science building, Romano gymnasium and Kirby Student Center. Today, the campus has more than 50 buildings. Most recently, UMD broke ground on a new Chemistry and Advanced Materials Sciences in June 2017. Old Main was destroyed in a fire in 1993, but the lower campus is still home to UMD's Research Laboratory Building.

Campus Traditions

UMD is rich in traditions that have grown from its long history.

Bulldog Welcome Week

Each fall, faculty and staff greet new students with fanfare as they file into the Chancellor's welcome convocation. Welcome Week activities also include the Bulldog Scramble, a high energy icebreaker that includes running around, rock-paper-scissor battles and high-fives.

Students at the 2018 Bulldog Welcome Week Convocation


UMD has celebrated homecoming each fall since 1933 with a homecoming parade and football game, cardboard boat races, parade floats and a foot race.

Feast of Nations

In 1968, a small group of international students gathered at the home of alumna Margaret Orlich to prepare a meal together and perform songs and dances from their native countries. The Feast of Nations became an annual event held in the Spring semester, now more than hosting 300 guests.

UMD MascotStudents at the 2018 Bulldog Welcome Week Convocation

The University of Minnesota Duluth mascot is Champ the bulldog, chosen In the spring of 1933 by UMD athletes.  Named "Killer" in the 1980s, the mascot's name was changed to "Champ" in 1997 to present a less violent image. The full history is available from UMD's student newspaper, The Bark.

UMD Rouser

The spirited "UMD Rouser" is a variation of the "Minnesota Rouser:"

Now let us praise UMD
Ever strong, and true we will be
And to the Bulldogs name
Maroon and Gold's our fame
We hail University, Rah, Rah, Rah
"U"-"M"-"D", Always with our loyalty
Sing and cheer to be victorious UMD!