A Look at 50 Years of Metropolitan State University: 1971-2022


Here is a look at key events in the history of Metropolitan State University, which now spans more than 50 years in St. Paul.

June 1971: Metropolitan State University is founded by the Minnesota Legislature at the request of the Citizens League with a non-traditional emphasis on group learning and credit for prior experience. David E. Sweet is named the first president. The offices are located in an air space in downtown St. Paul above a Walgreens pharmacy on Wabasha Street.

February 1972: The first 50 students are admitted.

February 1, 1973: The first 12 students graduate.

1975: The name of the school is changed from Minnesota Metropolitan State College to Metropolitan State University.

September 1977: Reatha Clark King, an accomplished chemist whose discoveries about metal alloys were used by NASA’s rocket program during the 1969 moon landing, is named the school’s second president. King, who had worked cotton fields as a child alongside her parents, illiterate sharecroppers in the Deep South, is the first black woman to lead a university that is not a historically black college or university, or HBCU.

1983: Metro State classes are held at 100 locations throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

June 23, 1987: Caps and robes are worn at the start for the first time.

May 4, 1988: Governor Rudy Perpich signs legislation naming the former site of St. John’s Hospital in the St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood as the school’s headquarters.

October 30, 1990: Minneapolis campus moves to 730 Hennepin Ave.

1991-92: Academic Affairs is divided into three colleges: Professional and Community Studies, Liberal Arts, and Management.

1993: Major construction is progressing on the St. Paul campus.

1994: The new main building opens on the main campus in Dayton’s Bluff and is home to the school’s first freshman class. Graduate programs in nursing and business administration are added. The School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice opens in rented space on St. Paul’s Energy Park Drive.

2002: Construction of the library begins on the St. Paul campus.

2005: In Minneapolis, Metro State shares space with the Minneapolis Community and Technical College at 1501 Hennepin Ave.

2009: Construction of the new Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Center begins in Brooklyn Park.

2016: A new Student Center building opens on the St. Paul campus in January and the Jason R. Carter Center for Science Education opens in April.

January 2022: A biography of the school’s second president—Find a Trail or Blaze One: A Biography of Dr. Reatha Clark King—commissioned by the university and written by Kate Leibfried is chosen as a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards.

As part of its 50th anniversary in February 2022, Metropolitan State University rolled out this new logo, along with a refreshed website and advertising campaign. (Courtesy of Metropolitan State University)

February 21, 2022: In keeping with its 50th anniversary, Metro State is ditching its old logo—which features the image of a campus building—and adopting a colorful new one.

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