- Dr. Joseph Shortlidge named sixth President; resigned next year.
- Professor James Y. McKee was acting President.
- Jordan Soil Fertility Plots laid out; oldest continuous test plots with fertilizers in America; moved to new site in miniature size in 1960.
- Shop instruction, in iron, began in Old Main basement.
- Dr. George W. Atherton became seventh President; died in office in 1906; served 24 years -- longest administration.
- Harriet A. McElwain, lady principal until 1902; made great gains for women students.
- First foreign woman student enrolled, Elizabeth B. Perry of La Prairie, Quebec, Canada.
- Mechanic Arts Building (temporary frame building) dedicated.
- Agricultural Experiment Station established by Legislature under 1887 Federal Hatch Act; completed in 1889, first director, Dr. Henry P. Armsby, noted for animal nutrition work and the respiration calorimeter.
- First biennial state appropriation of $100,000 provided first maintenance funds and launched first major building program: Armory, Old Botany, Chemistry and Physics Laboratory, Ladies' Cottage, Experiment Station and faculty residences.
- First student newspaper, Free Lance, published monthly.
- Electric lights and other modern features installed in Old Main.
- President Atherton elected first president of American Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations (now National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges).
- Phi Gamma Delta chartered; first permanently established men's national fraternity on campus; Beta Theta Pi was second.
- First La Vie published as junior class yearbook by class of 1890; La Vie changed to senior yearbook in 1930.