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Construction began on the main building (now called Holladay Hall) in 1888 and the college formally opened on October 3, 1889.Between 1889 and the end of World War I, the college experienced growth and expansion of purpose.In 1927, the first women graduated from the college.The Great Depression brought many challenges to State College when economic hardships caused enrollment to suffer.To address issues institutional inefficiencies, the State of North Carolina established the Consolidated University of North Carolina in 1931.This administratively combined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Woman’s College in Greensboro, and State College.The title of oldest public university in the United States is claimed by three universities: the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The College of William and Mary.

Now a public university, The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, was founded by royal charter in 1693, making it the second oldest college or university in the United States, after Harvard University.

On March 7, 1887 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

The state also budgeted money for the new college and transferred North Carolina's land-grant endowment to it as well. Stanhope Pullen gave land towards the establishment of the new college in Raleigh.

North Carolina State University was founded by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1887 as a land-grant college under the name North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

As a land-grant college, NC State would provide a “liberal and practical education” while focusing on military tactics, agriculture and the mechanical arts without excluding classical studies.

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