History and Tradition

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Deep Roots

Our story is a powerful one. For more than 135 years, Trine University has produced graduates who have literally gone out and changed the world for the better through their knowledge, innovation and work. And it's a story that continues to evolve each day.


Trine founded as Tri-State Normal College by the residents of Angola, Ind., and the Commerce Building — now known as Taylor Hall — is constructed as the College’s first facility.


The Administration Building, later known as the Sniff Administration Building and now the recently renovated C.W. Sponsel Administration Center, is completed at a cost of $15,000.


The School of Engineering, recognized today as one of the finest undergraduate schools of engineering in the country, is established.


The school reorganized from Tri-State Normal College and revised the name to Tri-State College, which it was known as for more than 100 years. Two years later, the College completed its third facility, the Recitation Building, now Shambaugh Hall.


The “Father of Tri-State,” Littleton M. Sniff, who had served as the College’s president since 1885, died in office.


Fire gutted the Administration Building; it was later rebuilt with the third floor removed.


Tri-State celebrated its 50th anniversary at the 1934 World's Fair in Chicago with daily demonstrations of its miniature wind tunnel.


After enrollment sank to 170 in 1945, more than 1,300 students — mostly GIs — swelled the campus in 1946.


Tri-State College reorganized as a nonprofit educational corporation.


Professor emeritus Alice Parrot, Ph.D., authored and published "The History of Tri-State College 1884-1956."


The college’s campus experienced massive expansion, with the addition of seven residence halls, the Perry T. Ford Library, Best Hall and Hershey Hall. In 1967, the college changed its athletic nickname from the Tri-State Engineers to the Trojans.


Zollner Golf Course opened on the Tri-State campus, and is one of the most beautiful and popular college golf courses in the country.


Tri-State College gained university status and was renamed Tri-State University.


A century after the College’s founding, professor Elizabeth Orlosky authored and published "From Carriage to Computer, the First 100 Years of Tri-State University."


The University changed the nickname of its athletic teams from the Tri-State Trojans to the Thunder.


For the first time since the early 1900s, Tri-State fielded a football team for intercollegiate play.


The University completed a $5 million renovation of Fawick Hall, offering engineering students state-of-the-art classrooms, labs and computer centers.


Shive Field, Tri-State’s new football field named in honor of trustee Dr. Wayne Shive, was dedicated. Today, the field is arguably the finest Division III artificial turf field in the country.


Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., inaugurated as Tri-State’s 16th president.


Centennial Hall renovated and renamed Forman Hall, with the building’s grand entrance named the Trine Welcome Center.


Tri-State accepted as a new member in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA); the University celebrated its 100th anniversary of excellence in engineering; Witmer Clubhouse renovated and expanded; and the University approved as a graduate degree-granting institution.


Tri-State attained NCAA Division III provisional membership; opened the $650,000 Ketner Sports Complex; expanded the University bookstore; and opened Trine Villas, some of the finest student residence facilities of their kind.


The University graduated its first class of Master of Science in Engineering Technology students, opened Ingledue Villas, and broke ground on the $15.5 million Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center and Center for Technology and Online Resources.


In the most successful homecoming weekend in its history, the University unveiled the Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center and Center for Technology and Online Resources, the renovated C.W. Sponsel Administration Center, and Moss Street and Kinney Street student apartments.


Tri-State renamed Trine University, in honor of trustees Drs. Ralph and Sheri Trine, to better define its mission and direction; construction began on Golf Course Village, four student apartment buildings on Zollner Golf Course.


Trine opened the Athletic and Recreation Center (ARC); began the transformation of Shive Field into the Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium; and began renovations on the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts.


Trine opened Fred Zollner Stadium.


Trine completed the Jim and Joan Bock Center for Innovation and Biomedical Engineering. The building features state-of-the-art cast metals laboratories, materials science and metallurgy laboratories, alternative energy studies center and bioprocess laboratories. It is also the home of Innovation One. Commencement was in Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium, the first outside ceremony since 1967.


Hundreds joined Trine University the morning of May 2, 2014, to dedicate the new T. Furth Center for Performing Arts. Later that day, the Furth Center officially opened with a performance in Ryan Concert Hall by award-winning writer and country singer Lee Greenwood. That spring, renovation began on Ford Hall, with completion set for August 2015. Also in August, Trine University opened the new Health Sciences Education Center at 1819 Carew St. in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Education Center is home to Trine's first doctoral program, the Doctor of Physical Therapy, and the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (launched fall 2018). Trine continued to experience record fundraising and growth under the leadership of Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., who marked his 15th year as president.


In spring, SportONE/Parkview Softball Field and Ben Davis Memorial Press Box were put into service. In the fall, the completely renovated Ford Hall, home of the Ketner School of Business, reopened and was dedicated during homecoming weekend. Also dedicated were the new Larry and Judy Reiners Residence Hall, which opened in the fall, and the Judy A. Morrill Garden Wall and Ryan Tennis Center, both completed in fall.


Trine's first Doctor of Physical Therapy class graduated with the Class of 2017, which set a record by graduating nearly 1,000 students. Fall enrollment topped 5,000 students for the first time, the fourth straight year of record enrollment. The Thunder Ice Arena opened in fall 2017, bringing collegiate ice hockey as well as youth and community skating and ice hockey programs to Trine University,


The MTI Center opened on Jan. 3, becoming the new home for Trine University men's and women's basketball as well as bowling and esports.