Eastern Illinois Normal School was established by the Illinois State Legislature in 1895 “to train teachers for the schools of East Central Illinois.” A 40-acre campus was acquired in Charleston and the first building was commissioned. When the school began classes in 1899, there were 125 students and an 18-member faculty.
Through the twentieth century, the school changed its name several times in order to reflect its transition from a teachers college into a multi-purpose institution that could be of wider service to Illinois. Thus, Eastern Illinois State Normal School became Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in 1921, which then became Eastern Illinois State College in 1947. In 1957, the Illinois General Assembly changed the name of the institution to Eastern Illinois University.