The University has a unique history that has evolved through different educational phases. It was started in April 1929 by a British Colonial farmer cum educationist by the name William Thomas Alfred Levet. The Institution was by then whites’ only primary school with a large farm, which was sold to Guy Bullen in February 1959. Between 1965 and 1970, the Institution served as a Large-scale Farmers training (LSFTC) college. The LSFTC was administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. In October 1979, it was converted into an Animal Husbandry and Industry Training Institute (AHITI) offering a two-year course leading to a Certificate in Animal Health. From 1988 to 1990, this operated as a Diploma Science Teacher's college after which it was taken over by Egerton University on 1st July 1990. To date, the University has graduated over 5000 students in the area of Bachelor of Education (Arts).
Laikipia University was established as a Campus of Egerton University. This followed the recommendations of a Government Committee appointed to look into modalities of absorbing a double intake of students from Secondary Schools. It was meant to offer Education courses for graduate teacher-training. Since then, the University has grown in student numbers and staff and now offers additional academic programmes. In view of its growth, the increased demand for university education and in response to the community, the Vice Chancellor appointed a Senate Committee on upgrading Laikipia Campus to a University status.
Since August 2005, several Stakeholder Workshops have been held between the Upgrading Committee and community leaders to sensitize the community on the need to partner and collaborate with the University in higher education management and delivery of services. It was observed that the University would establish satellite campuses in Maralal, Isiolo, Nyahururu and Nanyuki as learning centres for various tailor-made programmes. The District Education Board (Laikipia District) was also informed about the plans to upgrade the Campus into a constituent of Egerton University.
Laikipia University was awarded Charter on 19th February 2013 by the then President & Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya; his Excellency Hon. Mwai Kibaki E.G.H., This made the institution a fully-fledged University.
The first Chancellor of Laikipia University who was appointed on 19th February 2013 to Professor Raphael Munavu, PhD. He was the founder Principal of Laikipia Campus, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (A&F) of Egerton University and Vice former Vice-Chancellor of Moi University.