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The first building erected on campus was Academic Hall, now known as the Administration Building. Its commanding location is situated on the highest point of land between Omaha and St. Louis on the old Wabash Railroad line, 1,163 feet above sea level. Five cut-leaf birches stood at the site like sentinels, prompting faculty and students to describe the Normal School as being located "behind the birches."
Donors who have contributed $250,000 or more in lifetime gifts are members of The Birches Society.