9 fun facts about IUPUI

Over the years, much has happened across this sprawling, ever-evolving university rooted on Michigan and New York streets in downtown Indianapolis.

Following the inaugural Celebrate IUPUI Day on Jan. 21 and preparing to blow out the candles for IUPUI's 51st birthday Jan. 24, let's take a peek at nine fun facts about our favorite Indianapolis institution.

An aerial view of a plaza near IUPUI's University LibraryView print quality image
Learn some fun facts about IUPUI. Photo by James Brosher and Eric Rudd, Indiana University

1. So, we have athletics now?

IUPUI intercollegiate athletics began almost by accident on March 6, 1971, when the campus intramural men's basketball champion team was asked to be a replacement team for a regional collegiate tournament. The IUPUI team from the Normal College -- formally IUPUI's School of Physical Education -- lost to host IU Kokomo 114-75. In a second game played later that day, IUPUI defeated IU Southeast 82-79.

The IUPUI's men's basketball team began official intercollegiate play in January 1972 as the Metros.

For more information, visit this blog post from University Library archivist Stephen Towne.

2. Jaguar brew

Around the turn of the 20th century, a brewery was located at the northwest corner of New York Street and University Boulevard, in the area now hosting a parking lot opposite University Hall. Maus Brewery/Indianapolis Brewing Company was a major beer supplier and employer in Indianapolis at the time.

3. What regatta?

Before the Canal Walk and IUPUI Regatta, a mill race -- a channel of water used to pass water swiftly to turn mills -- flowed through what is campus today. During the early 19th century, the mill race traveled from Fall Creek into White River and helped turn the mills of several businesses that ground corn and other grains into flour. It flowed roughly parallel to Beauty Avenue behind the School of Dentistry and is why that street runs diagonally.

4. Hometown hero

Jaguars legend George Hill, an IUPUI student from 2004 to 2008, was drafted 26th overall in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. He became the only IUPUI men's basketball player to ever be drafted in the NBA. He currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and is in his 11th season in the league.

The Indianapolis native played for his hometown Indiana Pacers from 2011-16 and helped lead the blue and gold to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014. The 6-3 guard ranks among IUPUI's top 10 all-time in rebounds, assists, free throws made, field goals made and steals.

5. Best wit on campus?

University Library's Special Collections and Archives holds a monthly Photo Caption Contest using vintage IUPUI photos. The contest is open to all IUPUI students, staff and faculty, with winners receiving a unique prize.

6. Former hangout for medical students

The College Inn Cafeteria was a favorite campus hangout for medical and dentistry students for decades. It was located just east of the School of Dentistry building on Michigan Street and was owned by a School of Medicine faculty member.

7. Consolidation in one location

On Jan. 24, 1969, when Purdue and Indiana University operations in Indianapolis came together to create IUPUI, the university actually had seven locations around the city. Campus administrators worked to consolidate IUPUI in the near-westside location as soon as possible. But it took until 2005, when the Herron School of Art and Design moved from its location at 16th and Pennsylvania streets.

8. Vice President U?

Is IUPUI a breeding ground for the second-highest office in the United States? Two graduates of the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law have served as vice president of the United States: Dan Quayle and Mike Pence. Numerous IUPUI grads have served in Congress.

9. Come together

Back in 1969, there were two student newspapers: Onomatopoeia served the IU-Indianapolis Downtown Campus, and The Component was the paper for the Purdue University-Indianapolis Extension. In July 1971, students, faculty and administrators planned to join the two student newspapers. The result was The Sagamore, which published from 1971 to 2009 as the IUPUI student newspaper.