We use a novel identification strategy to investigate whether regional universities make their local economies more resilient. Our strategy is based on state governments using similar site-selection criteria to assign normal schools (to train teachers) and insane asylums between 1830 and 1930. Normal schools became larger regional universities while asylum properties mostly continue as small state-owned psychiatric health facilities. We find that a regional university roughly offsets the negative effects of manufacturing exposure. We show the resilience of regional public university spending is an important mechanism, and we show correlations consistent with bachelor's degree share also playing a mediating role.