Columbia College celebrates 159 years of excellence
On Jan. 18, 2010, Columbia College will celebrate the 159th anniversary of receiving its charter from the Missouri state legislature. A Charter Day celebration will be held in Dorsey Gym at 11 a.m. Jan. 14 (the 18th is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday) with remarks by President Brouder and history professor and History and Social Sciences chair Brad Lookingbill. A program of musical selections of the era will be sung by the inimitable Nollie Moore, followed by refreshments.
In January 1851, the Missouri General Assembly passed an act "to incorporate a Female College" in Columbia, Mo. It was the first women's college west of the Mississippi River to be chartered by state legislature. The board of trustees later voted to name the fledgling institution Christian Female College.
The student body consisted of just seven young women on April 7, 1851. By the beginning of the first session in September, 36 students had enrolled. That number had nearly doubled to 70 by mid-academic year.
Today the number is close to 26,000 students annually, and the college has more than 64,000 alumni worldwide.
The college initially had no buildings, so classes began on April 7, 1851, in the one-room Christian Church on Seventh Street across from the Boone County Courthouse. The college's board of trustees bought the home of James Bennett in the summer of 1851, the first dedicated college building, for the then-staggering sum of $5,500. The college's very first circular crowed that the "commodious new building, with five large rooms, in a retired and beautiful part of the village, has been obtained for the accommodation of the College [for] the ensuing session." It opened that fall.
Today the college has 35 physical campuses from coast to coast and is an online education leader.
Source, 1851 data: Paulina A. Batterson, "Columbia College: 150 Years of Courage, Commitment, and Change"