Charter Day

Christian College Sign

Columbia College celebrates 162 years.

Jan. 18. Here we are, 18 days into the new year, less than a week into the spring semester, in between holidays, months away from warm weather, covered by gray skies and, on some campuses, blanketed in snow. Pretty normal for this time of year, and the average person might not think twice about the date, allowing the day to unfold in a common sequence of classes, meetings and extracurriculars.

For some, though, Jan. 18 is a big day, a day of firsts, a time of celebration, a date of remembrance, a moment for reflection. Here’s a quick look at some notable events from this day in history:
  • 1778: English navigator Captain James Cook became the first European to reach the Hawaiian Islands.
  • 1782: Lawyer and statesman Daniel Webster was born in Salisbury, N.H.
  • 1788: The first English settlers arrived in Australia’s Botany Bay to establish a penal colony.
  • 1851: Christian College is founded as the first female college west of the Mississippi.
  • 1862: John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States, died in Richmond, Va., at age 71.
  • 1871: William I of Prussia was proclaimed German emperor in Versailles, France.
  • 1904: Actor Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England.
  • 1911: The first landing of an aircraft on a ship took place as pilot Eugene B. Ely flew onto the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbor.
  • 1912: English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition reached the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there first.
  • 1943: The Soviets announced that they had broken the long Nazi siege of Leningrad.
  • 1955: Actor Kevin Costner was born.
  • 1993: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in all 50 states for the first time.
And, although many of these events affect each of us in some way (who doesn’t love Field of Dreams?!), one stands out as particularly relevant to the Columbia College family: Charter Day – the day that Christian College was founded, on Jan. 18, 1851, as the first college for women commissioned by a state legislature west of the Mississippi. Organized by the then-president and trustees of the University of Missouri, Christian College was conceived as a sister school to MU (which did not accept women until 1868).

“Christian’s story is unique because it opened immediately on a collegiate level, rather than evolving from an academy or seminary like most women’s colleges in the East and South,” writes Allean Hale in Petticoat Pioneer. “Before Vassar, Smith or Wellesley existed, Christian offered a four-year Baccalaureate degree in a day when female education usually meant wax-work and embroidery.”

Well, 162 years later, gone are the days of candle dipping and needlepoint, but students can take classes in jewelry making and ceramics – along with hundreds of other classes for an opportunity to pursue dozens of degree options. Even more impressive: Columbia College’s 25,000-plus students don’t even have to be on main campus – or any campus at all – to pursue an education, thanks to 35 locations around the country and a robust online program.

“In its second hundred years Christian College is breaking new ground,” Hale continues. “In reality, Christian College is only shedding skins, facing the unknowable as it did in 1851, again under the leadership … of devoted individuals who are determined that it shall succeed … If those involved in its future are as resolute and daring as its founders, it will always stand on high ground as well.”

Celebrate this growth and Columbia College’s continued success on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. CT in Dorsey Gym. Dr. Gerald Brouder, Dr. Terry Smith, Dr. Brad Lookingbill and Nollie Moore will be among those presenting at the 162nd Charter Day event. Those not on Main Campus can still partake in the festivities, as Charter Day will be broadcast live to Nationwide Campuses.