The University of North Carolina is known for its prowess on the basketball court. But the school in Chapel Hill, N.C., also has a stellar reputation in the classroom. In fact, the University of North Carolina is the first state university established in the U.S.
The school was established in 1789 and its first classes were held in 1795. It is the only state university to graduate students in the 18th century.
Of course, determining the first in any category is always tricky and several universities also lay claim to being the first state university.
The University of Georgia is the oldest chartered public university. The General Assembly of Georgia established the university Jan. 27, 1785. However, the first class was not held until the fall of 1801, two years after the University of North Carolina awarded its first degrees.
Some point to Rutgers University as the first state university. Rutgers was chartered in 1766 and awarded its first degrees in 1774. However, the university was founded as a private institution affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church. Rutgers did not become a public university until 1946 by an act of the New Jersey legislature.