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Happy 90th birthday, Bemidji State University

BEMIDJI, Minn. (September 2, 2009) — On Sept. 2, 1919, Bemidji Normal School opened its first fall session with 38 students, including 10 males. Ninety years later, Bemidji State University celebrates its 90th birthday with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 students and a faculty and staff of about 600.

A long, hard-fought battle had been waged to secure Bemidji as the site of Minnesota’s sixth normal school. The communities of Cass Lake and Thief River Falls had been fierce contenders. On July 15, 1913, however, the Normal School Commission unanimously selected Bemidji.

The school’s first summer session, which started on June 23, 1919, had successfully served some 130 students, 14 of whom enrolled for the fall session. A faculty and staff of 10 were in place to see that the fall term would be a success, as well.

That year, the school had its first library acquisitions, a Webster’s dictionary and a second-hand set of Encyclopedia Britannica. One extracurricular activity was offered, the Dramatic Club. No athletic teams existed. Today, the University has 375,000 catalogued books in its library, more than 75 student clubs and organizations, and 17 athletic teams.

The University is committed to shaping the potential of those it serves, so they, in turn, will shape the worlds in which they live and work.

Help celebrate our 90th birthday by visiting our special commemorative Web site at

About Bemidji State University Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,000 students, the University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate programs encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. The University is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. University signature themes include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and global and multi-cultural understanding. For further information about the University, visit Become a fan of Bemidji State University on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.