"Well ahead of its time"

Columbia College celebrates 160 years.

At 11 a.m. on Jan. 25, Columbia College will celebrate its 160th anniversary. President Gerald Brouder and professor and History and Political Science chair Brad Lookingbill will provide remarks on events of 1861 and the constitutional crisis, respectively, and Nollie Moore will sing a program of musical selections of the era. Refreshments will follow.

Columbia College received its charter from the Missouri state legislature on Jan. 18, 1851. The board of trustees voted to name the fledgling institution Christian Female College.

Paulina ("Polly") Batterson, in Columbia College: 150 Years of Courage, Commitment, and Change, writes, "The founding of a woman's college put Christian College well ahead of its time, even when compared with the state of education in the East."

The student body consisted of seven young women on April 7, 1851, and the first classes were held in the one-room Christian Church on Seventh Street. By the beginning of the next session in September, 36 students had enrolled and the new college needed and found its own building, the unfinished home of physician James Bennett, who'd died en route to the California Gold Rush.

Thomas Allen, one of the original founders of Christian Female College and a Christian Church elder, wrote, "Who will make a good President? Any of our Brethren?" They found one in a sober, unconventional Kentuckian, John Augustus Williams. Williams was a firm believer in tailoring education to the individual and was vehemently against for-profit education, radical ideas for 1851.

Fast forward 160 years. Dr. Brouder, 16th president of Columbia College, is also dedicated to individualized education and the college's non-profit status. Today the college serves 29,000 students annually and has more than 67,000 alumni worldwide who have graduated from the Day, Evening, Online or more than 30 Nationwide campuses from California to Georgia. And Bennett's home, renamed Williams Hall, is the oldest college building in continuous use for educational purposes west of the Mississippi River.

Happy birthday, Columbia College!

Source: Paulina A. Batterson, Columbia College: 150 Years of Courage, Commitment, and Change