Drake University was founded in 1881 when most of the staff of Oskaloosa College, led by Francis Marion Drake, left that college to establish Drake University. Drake was originally affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) although no religious affiliation is officially recognized today. The first classes convened in 1881 with 77 students and one building constructed, Student’s Home.
In 1883 the first permanent building, Old Main, was completed. Old Main remains an important building on campus today housing administration offices, Levitt Hall, and Sheslow Auditorium; site of many United States Presidential Debates among other events. The university's law school, the second oldest law school in the country west of the Mississippi River after Saint Louis University School of Law, was established in 1865 by Chester C. Cole, who served on the Iowa Supreme Court from 1864 to 1876. Drake’s first international students enrolled for classes in 1886 coming from China, Persia, Armenia, and Japan. The first campus library opened on June 16, 1908. In 1920, due to a housing crisis, the University allowed social fraternities to use Greek letter emblems and affiliate with national offices.
Drake's law school, one of the twenty-five oldest law schools in the nation, traces its history to 1865. It is a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools, has been accredited since 1923 when accreditation first began, and is one of only seventy-five ABA-approved law schools to have a Chapter of Order of the Coif. Drake University Law School is home to the American Judicature Society, the archives of the National Bar Association, the nation's oldest and largest national association of predominately African-American lawyers and judges, and the Drake Constitutional Law Center, which is one of only four constitutional law programs established by the U.S. Congress and funded by the federal government.
In 1887, the Iowa College of Pharmacy affiliated with Drake University in 1887 and operated as one of the colleges of the University until 1906 when it was discontinued. Drake was without a pharmacy school until 1939, when the Des Moines College of Pharmacy Corporation, which had separated from Des Moines Universiy in 1927, was dissolved and the college’s staff and facilities became part of Drake University.
In 1931, the first on-campus student residence built since the university’s founding opened—the women’s dormitory. In 1937, ground was broken on commencement day for Cowles Library, which is today the university’s primary library. 1939 saw a new men's dorm completed which included a student union dubbed "The Kennel." The new center permitted smoking, the first official campus recognition of the "new fad." In 1963, Kirk Residence Hall opened, with Meredith Hall opening in 1965, opening the door for the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Journalism. During the height of nationwide student protests in 1970, a bomb exploded inside Harvey Ingham Hall. No one was injured, but windows were shattered in nearby Meredith, Fitch and Herriott halls. Ingham was decimated, but repaired. The largest building on campus, the Harmon Fine Arts Center would open in 1972 with the Olmsted Center, Drake’s student union building, opening in 1974.
On September 17, 1969, the Drake student newspaper, The Times-Delphic , published what appears to be the first documented account of the famous Paul is dead hoax, written by Tim Harper. No articles published prior to this piece about the supposed death of Paul McCartney are known, although fellow Times-Delphic reporter and musician Dartanyan Brown, one of the sources for the article, recalled hearing about the hoax from other musicians and reading about it in some underground newspapers.
In 1992, the William A. Knapp Center opened as home to the men's and women's basketball teams along with the women's volleyball team. It contains four racquetball courts, five basketball and volleyball courts, a 200-meter track and a weight training center. The facility hosted President Bill Clinton in 1996.
In September 2010, Drake launched the distinctlyDrake Campaign in order to meet the goals of "attracting and empowering the best and brightest students through $50 million for scholarship endowment, attracting and retaining the finest teachers, mentors and scholars through 26 endowed faculty positions at $26 million to $50 million, improving and enhancing physical facilities, technology and resources on campus through $50 million to $85 million worth of capital upgrades, broadening perspectives through innovative and expanded interdisciplinary centers through $15 million to $18 million investments, and build on collective financial strength through the Drake Fund through $3.5 million to $4 million per year". When the campaign concluded in 2015, a total of $216,014,522 had been raised towards these efforts.
In 2013, Drake University became the home of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement.
The University consists of six colleges:College of Arts and Sciences
College of Business and Public Administration
School of Education
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
For the 2015-16 academic year, Drake University placed third in the midwest region of the U.S. News & World Report's rankings of master's universities. Among master’s institutions, Drake’s peer-assessed academic quality ranks third of 149 in the Midwest and seventh of 542 in the nation.
Forbes magazine ranked Drake University at 136th on their 2016 list of America's Top Colleges.
The University provides the following on-campus living accommodations for undergraduate students:Stalnaker Hall (First-Year only)
Carpenter Hall (First-Year only)
Herriott Hall (First-Year only)
Crawford Hall (First-Year only)
Jewett Hall (Upperclassmen only)
Goodwin-Kirk Hall (Upperclassmen only)
Ross Hall (Upperclassmen only)
Students are required to live on campus for their first two years at Drake. This excludes non-traditional students who take time off between high school and matriculation. Most students choose to live off campus during their final two years.
In 2006, Drake University and Hubbell Realty leaders began a US$34-million housing and retail development at 30th Street and Carpenter Avenue. The Drake West Village development created 7,000 square feet (650 m2) of retail space for street-level neighborhood businesses and upper floors for state-of-the-art student suites. The buildings house up to 500 students in a mix of one-, two-, and four-bedroom units, where each student has a private bedroom and shares a common living and kitchen space. The housing is targeted at junior and senior undergraduate students and graduate students in the pharmacy program or the Drake Law School and does not house non-students.
Drake features over 160 student organizations in which to participate, which include several fraternities and sororities.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication's (SJMC) magazine program has achieved national prominence. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) team that visited in 1999 called the SJMC a “real standout” and termed Drake's Magazines program the strongest undergraduate sequence in the country. Drake student magazines THiNK and 515 won 2007 Pacemaker awards in Washington, D.C.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is also home to 94.1 The Dog, which operates under the call letters KDRA-LP FM. The station launched in August 2006 after having existed as an internet station, KDCS Bulldog Radio. 94.1 The Dog is broadcast at 80 watts from a tower atop Meredith Hall, the home of Drake's SJMC. An agreement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows Drake to utilize the frequency from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. weekdays and all day Saturday, while Grand View University controls the frequency the rest of the week under the call letters KGVC-LP. Drake students schedule 24 hours of programming under "The Dog," broadcasting online and on channel 12 on closed-circuit television on campus even when not broadcasting on the frequency.
Drake student-athletes compete in NCAA Division I in the Missouri Valley Conference in all sports except football. In football, Drake competes in the FCS NCAA Division I Pioneer Football League. In crew, Drake competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.Basketball (men's and women's)
Cross-country (men's and women's)
Golf (men's and women's)
Soccer (men's and women's)
Tennis (men's and women's)
Track & Field (men's and women's)
Drake has an extensive sports history.
In 1885, baseball became the University’s first varsity sport, followed by football and track.
In 1904, Drake organized a women's basketball team, but Mary Carpenter, the first Dean of Women, banned the team as "not appropriate for women".
Also in 1904, the athletic teams received their nickname of Bulldogs from a sportswriter who noticed that John L. Griffith, who coached every sport, was bringing his pet bulldogs to the practice fields. The teams had previously been known as the Ducklings and Ganders.
On October 11, 1905, Drake's first football field, Haskins Field, opened with a 17-0 loss to Iowa.
In 1928, Drake's football history continued when Drake defeated Simpson College 41-6 in what is believed to be the first night football game west of the Mississippi River. Perhaps the most famous incident in Drake’s football history is known as the Johnny Bright Incident, where Pulitzer-Prize winning photographs in the Des Moines Register proved an intentional attack on the African American quarterback by Oklahoma State Cowboys football players.
In 1969, Drake's men's basketball team reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Top-seeded UCLA Bruins men's basketball and its 7-foot megastar Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) barely escaped an upset in the national semifinals, 85-82.
In 1973, nearly 70 years after the original women's basketball team had been banned, Drake established a department of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics.
In 1981, senior Lewis Lloyd, the nation's second-leading scorer in Division I men's basketball, was named a first-team All-American. Drafted by the Houston Rockets, Lloyd went on to an eight-year NBA career.
In 1982, the first year of the NCAA women's basketball tournament, Drake came within one step of the Final Four.
Drake’s most famous event, the Drake Relays, began in 1910 in a blizzard with fewer than 100 participants. In 1935 Jesse Owens set an American broad jump record (26-1-3/4) at the Drake Relays. Today, the Drake Relays draws athletes from all over the world, including olympians. Students kick-off the Relays in the annual tradition of Street Painting, in which student organizations colorfully decorate areas of Carpenter Avenue near the center of campus under a common theme.
The fight song for Drake University is The "D" Song. The lyrics are:
Here's to the one who wears the "D",
Makes a good fight for varsity,
Here's to those who've fought and won,
Made a good fight as a true Drake alum,
Here's to the one who's brave and bold,
Ready to battle like days of old,
Fights like a Bulldog for victory,
Oh, here's to the one who wears the "D".