Columbia College (Missouri)

Columbia College (Missouri)
Columbia College
Columbia college.png
Established 1851
Type Private coeducational liberal arts
President Dr. Gerald T. Brouder
Students 1,200 (Day Campus); nearly 3,000 (Evening Campus); 10,000 (nationwide campuses); 14,000 (Online Campus)
Postgraduates 600
Location Columbia, MO, USA
Campus Day Campus,
Evening Campus,
Online Campus,
Aurora, CO,
Christian County, MO,
Coast Guard Island, CA,
Crystal Lake, IL,
Elgin, IL,
Fort Drum, NY,
Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Fort Sill, OK,
Fort Stewart, GA,
Fort Worth, TX,
Freeport, IL,
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
Hancock Field, NY,
Hunter Army Airfield, GA,
Jacksonville, FL,
Jefferson City, MO,
Kansas City, MO,
Lake County/Great Lakes, IL,
Lake of the Ozarks, MO,
Lemoore, CA,
Los Alamitos, CA,
Marysville/Everett, WA,
Moberly, MO,
NAS Jacksonville, FL,
Orlando, FL,
Patrick Air Force Base, FL,
Redstone Arsenal, AL,
Rolla, MO,
Salt Lake, UT,
San Luis Obispo, CA,
St. Louis, MO,
Whidbey Island, WA
Athletics NAIA
Colors Navy Blue and Silver
Mascot Cougar
Affiliations Disciples of Christ

Columbia College (also called Columbia College of Missouri) is a private co-educational liberal arts university based in Columbia, Missouri. The school offers day and evening classes on its Columbia Campus, extension courses through its nationwide campuses and ties with U.S. military bases (including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba), and online courses. The College is nonsectarian, but it has retained a covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) since its inception.




Christian Female College received its charter from the Missouri Legislature on January 18, 1851, making it the first women's college west of the Mississippi River to be chartered by state legislature. The city of Columbia strongly supported female education, in part because the University of Missouri did not yet admit women. Infrastructure was a problem; the first classes were held in an unfinished mansion.

A typical day for female students in 1851 started at 6 a.m. with a morning walk, followed by worship in the chapel. They attended classes until late afternoon and then wrote a daily composition. After they studied and did chores, the students attended a Bible lecture every evening. They studied arithmetic, ancient history, grammar, ancient geography, philosophy, five books of Moses and composition. By 1856, there were 150 students, including 85 boarders.[1]


Missouri, a slave state, had been at war with abolitionist Kansas since 1854. Missouri’s pro-slavery governor Claiborne “Fox” Jackson pushed the legislature to vote for secession, but this vote was rendered meaningless when Federal troops under Nathanial Lyon occupied Jefferson City, the capital. The Confederacy never relinquished its claim on Missouri, however, and invaded repeatedly from neighboring Arkansas, provoking Confederate guerilla (Jesse and Frank James, William Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson) and Union counter-guerilla activity, forced mass evacuations, raids and atrocities as close as 20 miles away (Centralia Massacre). The majority of the city of Columbia was pro-Union but the surrounding agricultural areas of Boone County and the rest of central Missouri were decidedly pro-slavery. In this deadly, chaotic environment, Christian College President Joseph K. Rogers vowed to keep the school open—and he did, thanks in part to faculty who relinquished pay.

President Rogers insisted the college remain neutral and did not allow newspapers on the grounds, but privately he read them. As the fighting continued, so did the fight for the college's survival. Only three students graduated in 1862 and four the following year. But Christian College never missed a day of classes. After the war, Christian College saw its largest enrollment to date with 182 students taught by nine faculty members.


Growth continued through the turn of the century, especially under Luella St. Clair, a "steam engine in petticoats." St. Clair served three different terms as president of the college between 1893 and 1920 and was one of the first female college presidents in the country.

Photo of Columbia College (then Christian College), 1904

During her administration, she spearheaded the construction of four new buildings — St. Clair Hall, Dorsey Hall, Launer Auditorium and Missouri Hall — all of which are still in use today. She also doubled the size of the faculty, held the first Ivy Chain ceremony, launched a college magazine, created a college orchestra, started a women's basketball team and implemented the then-innovative cap-and-gown uniform, which students wore in public. She also changed the college from a four-year school to one of the first accredited junior colleges in the country. Actress and singer Jane Froman graduated in 1926.


In 1970 the college changed from a two-year all-female college to a four-year coeducational college, and changed its name to Columbia College. Between 1970 and 1971, more than 70 courses as daring as cycling and flying were added to the curriculum; all graduation requirements except freshman English and a GPA of 2.0 were dropped; more foreign students were admitted; and a host of lifestyle choices such as off-campus living for juniors, a relaxed dress code, and smoking were allowed. President W. Merle Hill said in 1971 that the time had come to openly allow discussions of poverty, the Vietnam War, racism, sex, drugs and abortion. All this was a radical departure from the college’s conservative heritage and alienated some students and alumni.[1]

President W. Merle Hill said in 1971, “I would like to bring education screaming and kicking into the 1970s. Then we would only be about 70 years behind ... Instead of pounding something into students’ heads, you have to permit young people to create their own lifestyle. If you dictate, they will rebel. The best way to teach is to let your own lifestyle be such that they want to follow, not rebel.”

In bold contrast to the anti-military stance of many colleges, the college began educating military personnel in St. Louis at the request of the military, making it one of the first colleges in the country with extended campuses on military bases. This was the start of the Extended Studies Division. Two years later, the college launched the Evening Campus, geared to adult learners. Today, the college has 33 extended campuses around the country serving more than 25,000 military and civilian students each year, including one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In 1996, Columbia College offered its first graduate degree with a Master of Arts in Teaching, followed by a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. These degrees are offered through evening classes in Columbia, Mo., and at select extended campuses around the country. In 2000, the college launched its Online Campus, which now offers more than 500 online courses and 18 online degrees.

The Columbia College Cougars women's volleyball program captured two consecutive National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships in 1998 and 1999 with perfect 45-0 and 44-0 records, respectively. And in honor of what would have been alumna Jane Froman’s 100th birthday, a centennial celebration was held at Columbia College November 9–11, 2007. A DVD of the movie, "With a Song in my Heart," with added new segments, also premiered.


The college’s academic divisions include:[2]

  • Art Department
    • Ceramics
    • Graphic Design
    • Illustration
    • Painting and Drawing
  • Business Administration Department
    • Accounting Program
    • Advertising and Public Relations Program
    • Business Administration Program
    • Financial Services Program
    • Human Resource Management Program
    • International Business Program
    • Management Program
    • Management Information Systems Program
    • Marketing Program
    • Sports Management Program
  • Computer and Mathematical Sciences Department
    • Computer Information Systems Program
    • Computer Science Program
    • Mathematics Program
  • Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department
    • Criminal Justice Administration Program
    • Forensic Science Program
    • Human Services Program
  • Division of Adult Higher Education
  • Education Department
  • Evening Campus Office
  • Graduate Studies
  • History and Social Sciences Department
    • American Studies Program
    • History Program
    • International Relations Program
    • Legal Studies Program
    • Political Science Program
    • Psychology Program
    • Sociology Program
    • Women's Studies
  • Humanities Department
    • Communication Program
    • English Program
    • English as a Second Language (ESL) Program
    • Music Program
    • Philosophy, Religious Studies and Ethics Program
    • Spanish Program
  • International Programs
  • Nursing Program
  • Online Campus
  • Science Department
    • Biology Program
    • Chemistry Program
    • Environmental Studies
    • Physics Program
    • Pre-Communication Science and Disorders Program


In 2009, Columbia College was ranked 51st in the category of "Best Universities-Master's" for the Midwest Region by U.S. News & World Report.[citation needed] Also in 2009, Columbia College was named a "Best Midwestern College" by The Princeton Review, which is a New York City-based education services company; the college is one of 159 schools in a 12-state region to receive the designation, which are selected based on academics and surveys of current students.[citation needed] named Columbia College a "Best Buy" for affordability and quality in several online degree categories: MBA,[3] bachelor's in business administration,[4] bachelor's in criminal justice,[5] and bachelor's in human services.[6]


The Columbia College Cougars have nationally recognized NAIA Division I athletic teams competing in five sports.[7]

They had particular success in 1998 and 1999, including back-to-back undefeated women’s volleyball seasons.[citation needed] The five Cougar sports combined for a total of 146 wins and 33 losses during 1998-99 season, with each sport claiming their conference tournament championship and all five Columbia coaches being named conference "Coach of the Year" for their respective sports.[citation needed]

Women's Basketball

Columbia College reinstated women's basketball as a varsity sport in 2000 and the team played its first game on Nov. 6, 2001 vs. Wesleyan University. In 2008, the Lady Cougars advanced to the American Midwest Conference (AMC) title game, falling to McKendree University (Ill.), 78-66. Sophomore forward Rachel Oswald was named Newcomer of the Year.

Men's Basketball

Under Coach Bob Burchard, the Cougars have become a perennial contender for a berth in the NAIA Men's Basketball National Championship Tournament. Coach Burchard received his 500th win over Missouri Baptist University in March 2008 with a score of 71-54. Burchard’s career spans 20 seasons, 17 of them winning ones, including three 30-win seasons.[citation needed] With Columbia's 24-7 record in 2008, Burchard’s record stands at 500-185, which is a milestone that contributed to his May 2008 induction into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He ranks fourth in Missouri for coaching wins.[citation needed]

Men's Soccer

Men’s Cougar soccer has also seen successes; in 2006, the soccer team finished second in the conference with an overall record of 11-7-1.

Women's Softball

The softball program won three straight AMC Tournament Championship from 2001–2004, and again won in 2008.[citation needed] Cougar head coach Wendy Spratt achieved 500 victories with a win over Northwestern Oklahoma State University in April 2007.[citation needed]

The AMC named pitcher Valerie Teter the league’s most valuable player and freshman of the year in 2008.[citation needed] Teter threw a two-hitter and stuck out 10 in five innings, adding a grand slam in the second inning. AMC's Pitcher of the Year award went to Katie McMahon for the second straight season in 2008 following a 16-4 record with a 1.61 ERA, and 138 strikeouts in 135 innings.[citation needed] McMahon is the eighth Columbia College player since 1999 to earn the league's top pitching honor; other two-time winners from Columbia College were Jayne Miller and Monica Mueller.

Women's Volleyball

The women’s volleyball program has been successful in NAIA Division I, with three perfect seasons and championships in 1998, 1999 and 2001.

In the late 90s, the husband-and-wife team of Wayne and Coach Susan Kreklow drove the team to the NAIA National Tournament six times, won five regional championships and seven consecutive American Midwest Conference championships. In 1998 and 1999, Columbia College achieved consecutive undefeated seasons with a combined record of 85-0. The Cougars' undefeated record included 78 consecutive wins at home and 227 consecutive game victories.

In 1997 and 1998, the Kreklows shared NAIA/AVCA National Coach of the Year and Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors. In 1999, the coaching tandem took home the regional award for the fifth consecutive year. In 1998 and 1999, the Kreklows also received the NAIA National Tournament Coach of the Year award. After the 1999 season, both Kreklows left the Cougars, but did not go far—two miles down the city's College Avenue, to be exact, where Wayne took the head coaching job with the Missouri Tigers and Susan became Director of Volleyball for Mizzou.

The Kreklows also started the men's volleyball program at Columbia College in 1997. In 1999, the Cougars finished the season with a 19-5 overall record, enjoying their second consecutive undefeated run through the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. They also took second place at the inaugural SSI Volleyball National Invitational Tournament in 1999. In 2000 the Men's Team Won the NAIA championship, although the Kreklow's were not there for the entire season they are the coach's who put the team together and coached them for the first part of the year. The men’s volleyball program has since been disbanded.

In 2000, with a team composed of ten freshmen and three sophomores, the Lady Cougars finished 44-2 for a second place finish at the NAIA National Tournament. Coach Melinda Wrye-Washington was named American Midwest Conference and NAIA Region V Coach of the Year. In 2001, the Lady Cougars returned to perfect form as NAIA champions with a 38-0 record.

Notable alumni

  • Judy Baker, former Missouri state representative
  • Deborah Bryant '65, Miss America 1966
  • Jane Froman '26, 1930-1950s singer, actress
  • Arliss Howard '76, actor, writer and director
  • Sally Rand (attended 1919), notorious fan dancer and early movie star
  • Lavinia "Vinnie" Ream (attended 1857), sculptor of Lincoln statue in U.S. Capitol rotunda
  • Larry Young '76; bronze medal racewalking, '68 Mexico City and '72 Munich Olympics; sculptor
  • Steve Fishman Big Lots CEO


External links

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