Florida is known for many things — the Kennedy Space Center, Cascades Park, Disney World and Epcot, Busch Gardens, Universal Orlando Resort, Castillo de San Marcos, the Daytona International Speedway, Gatorland, and much more. Throughout this great state, another noteworthy claim to fame includes universities with a rich background of academic excellence, especially when it comes to the history of Florida State University located in the city of Tallahassee.

The foundation of FSU can be traced back to 1851 when the state legislature established two institutions of learning with one located east of the Suwanee River and the other located on the west. The purpose was twofold: “the instruction of persons, both male and female, in the art of teaching all the various branches that pertain to a good common school education; and next to give instruction in the mechanic arts, in husbandry, in agricultural chemistry, in the fundamental laws, and in what regards the rights and duties of citizens.”

By 1857, the schools merged as West Florida Seminary and became coeducational a year later. In 1863, the name changed to the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute due to the addition of military training for cadets ranging in ages from 12 to 18. An interesting Civil War fact connected to the present-day FSU Army ROTC stems from 1865 when these trained cadets bravely fought in the Battle of Natural Bridge. As a result, the school’s current ROTC is only “one of three in the nation authorized to display a battle streamer with its flag” that says “NATURAL BRIDGE 1865.

The state’s educational system was restructured in 1905 by the legislature, and six institutions of higher learning were merged into two — the University of Florida in Gainesville for men and Florida State College in Tallahassee for women. However, in 1947, the governor signed an act that established coed status at the women’s college, and the school was renamed to Florida State University, and it has been booming in growth ever since. 

Fast forward to the present day, and impressive numbers reflect how FSU has grown to become an outstanding educational beacon for students around the world:

  • More than 41,000 students attend FSU from every county in Florida and more than 130 countries.
  • Students have the option to choose from nearly 300 degree programs with a plethora of options for undergraduate and graduate study, specialists, and professional certificates.
  • FSU has a 22:1 faculty/student ratio with more than 2,000 traditional faculty. 
  • The campus is comprised of 1,673 acres with 381 buildings (the main Tallahassee campus is 485.5 acres). 
  • More than 360,000 university alumni are represented around the world.

And here’s a fun fact about FSU: According to the 2020 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges guidebook, the university ranked No. 18 on the prestigious list of being one of the top 20 public universities in the nation.

FSU also has a stand-out list of notable names who called the Tallahassee campus home, including, athletes, singers, celebrities, etc. — Burt Reynolds, Warrick Dunn, Barry Jenkins, Faye Dunaway, Jim Morrison, Richard Simmons, Deion Sanders, and Gabrielle Reece, just to name a few.

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