Illinois State University (ISU), founded in 1857, is the oldest public university in Illinois, United States; it is located in the town of Normal. ISU is considered a 'national university' that grants a variety of doctoral degrees and strongly emphasizes research. ISU is recognized as a top 100 national public university, ranking 85th on the 2012 U.S. News and World Report list of the nation's top national public universities. Of the four public universities in Illinois to make the list, only the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois Chicago were ranked higher in 2012. ISU is also recognized as one of the top ten largest producers of teachers in the US according to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. The ISU athletic teams are members of the Missouri Valley Conference and the Missouri Valley Football Conference and are known as the 'Redbirds,' in reference to the state bird, the cardinal.