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University of Missouri

A Timeline of Mizzou Achievements

MU faculty, students and alumni make strides throughout 175 years.


As MU looks forward to its 175th anniversary in 2014, it’s a moment for a proud look back at some of the university’s accomplishments in realms of teaching, research, service and athletics. Mizzou started with a graduating class of two students in 1843 and has since become an economic and scholarly powerhouse, with an enrollment of 34,658 in fall 2013 and research expenditures of $217 million in fiscal 2012.


Through the Geyer Act, the legislature establishes the University of Missouri. Thanks primarily to the efforts and contributions of 900 Boone County citizens, the university is to be located in Columbia. It is the first public higher‐education institution west of the Mississippi River and the first in the Louisiana Purchase territory.

John Hiram Lathrop

University President John Hiram Lathrop

John Hiram Lathrop is hired by the Board of Curators as the first president, and the university starts operations in Academic Hall. Lathrop begins in 1841.

The university holds its first commencement — a three‐hour ceremony — for two graduates, cousins Robert L. Todd and Robert B. Todd.

The Alumni Society (later the University of Missouri Alumni Association and, after Jan. 1, 2007, the Mizzou Alumni Association) is established.

The university closes from spring to fall because federal troops engaged in the Civil War are quartered in Academic Hall.

President Abraham Lincoln signs the Morrill Act, which creates the nation’s land‐grant universities.

The state allocates its first appropriation to the university — $10,000 to rebuild the president’s home, which had burned; repair war‐ravaged Academic Hall; and establish the Normal College for the preparation of teachers.

Academic Hall, pre-1885

Academic Hall, pre‐1885

Women are admitted to the university for the first time, though their enrollment is limited to the Normal College.

Phi Kappa Psi becomes Mizzou’s first fraternity.

The federal Morrill Act gives the university land‐grant status, and the state legislature authorizes the establishment of the College of Agriculture in Columbia and the School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla.

Female students are admitted to the University of Missouri beyond the Normal College.

The citizens of Missouri give the university and its governing body, the Board of Curators, constitutional status and call on the general assembly to adequately maintain the “state university.”


Grace C Bibb

Grace C. Bibb, MU’s first female dean

MU lecturer and Missouri State Entomologist Charles V. Riley helps save the French wine industry from a vine‐ravaging aphid by grafting resistant Missouri rootstock onto French vines.

Grace C. Bibb is appointed dean of the Normal College, now the College of Education. She is MU’s first female dean.

Thomas Jefferson’s heirs give his original tombstone to MU.

The first vaccine‐virus laboratory in the U.S. is established at the veterinary science department.

Sanborn field

1888: Under the federal Hatch Act of 1887, the Agricultural Experiment Station is established in 1888 and operates on Sanborn Field in Columbia.

The first residence hall is built to house 25 to 30 men.

Congress passes a second Morrill Act, which creates what are now known as historically black universities and provides more support to land‐grant institutions.

Intercollegiate athletics is established at Mizzou with the formation of a football squad. The following year, Mizzou and the University of Kansas play for the first time in any sport.


Academic Hall burns. Alumni and citizens of Boone County prevent the Columns from being torn down.

MU entomologists determine that the cattle tick causes a deadly fever and discover how to eradicate it.

MU’s yearbook, the Savitar, makes its first appearance. In 1908, illustrations by Thomas Hart Benton grace its pages.

Jesse hall

1895: A new Academic Hall, renamed Jesse Hall in 1922, opens to replace the original building, which burned in 1892. Photo courtesy MU Archives: C:0/46/7.


The Dunn‐Palmer Herbarium becomes the first public library of plants west of the Mississippi River and one of the few in the U.S. It includes specimens from the 1830s and samples of Missouri’s endangered species.

The first doctor of philosophy degree is awarded.

Enrollment reaches 1,038 with students from 42 states, territories and foreign countries.

Read Hall, a dormitory for women, is built.

University Elementary School and University High School are established.

The first MU men’s basketball team forms and plays its first game in January 1907.

Walter Williams

Journalism Dean Walter Williams

MU co‐founds the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and later is a member of the Big Eight Conference, Big 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference.

With the advent of the School of Journalism, Dean Walter Williams also establishes the University Missourian to provide practical training for journalism students.

The University of Missouri is invited to become a member of the Association of American Universities, the organization that continues to represent the most prestigious public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada.

The football team wins its first conference championship (Missouri Valley) with an overall mark of 7–0-1.

University of Missouri Extension begins spreading the benefits of university research to the citizens of Missouri.

MU hosts one of the first university Homecoming celebrations in the nation.


The Missouri Alumnus magazine, now MIZZOU, is founded.

The federal Smith‐Lever Act establishes a system of cooperative extension services connected to land‐grant universities to inform people about developments in agriculture, home economics, public policy, leadership, 4‐H, economic development and many other subjects.

Faculty scientists conduct soil‐erosion research that provides the impetus for Congress to create field stations nationwide to focus on the problems of erosion and drought.

Influenza pandemic hits Columbia and closes the university for three weeks.

MU sprinter Jackson Scholz, BJ ’20, wins an Olympic gold medal in the 440 relay, and in 1924 he wins gold in the 200‐meter dash. A character based on him appears in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire

Mizzou plays in its first bowl game, losing to USC 20–7 in the Christmas Festival.

memorial stadium

1926: Memorial Stadium is dedicated. Photo from the 1927 Savitar.

MU geneticist Lewis J. Stadler discovers that radiation multiplies mutations in plants, a breakthrough that leads to faster development of new varieties of plants.

Ralph H. Parker, who later became director of the MU Libraries and dean of the School of Library and Information Science (now part of the College of Education), publishes the first paper in the world to talk about using computers in libraries. In 1964, he instituted the first automated circulation system in the nation.

The football team plays its first game with Don Faurot as head coach, defeating William Jewell, 39–0. Faurot coached 19 seasons, and his 101 wins are more than any other MU coach. He created the Split‐T formation, led the Tigers to the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and became athletic director.

Barbara McClintock

Geneticist Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock begins a five‐year stint as an assistant professor at MU. She goes on to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is honored as the 1983 Nobel Laureate in Medicine for her discovery of mobile genetic elements.

Engineer Donald Waidelich initiates a three‐decade study of repeating electronic patterns that provides the key to interpreting radar and sonar signals.

During World War II, head of all war production is Donald Marr Nelson, BS CiE 1911, LLD ’42. The war reduces enrollment from 5,725 to 1,938 in 1943. The return of veterans and the GI Bill push enrollment to 11,452 in 1947, and temporary dormitories house these new students.


Researchers Leonard Haseman and L.F. Childers demonstrate a diet that protects bees from a disease that threatens to wipe out the nation’s bee colonies.

William Albrecht collects a soil sample from Sanborn Field that provides the golden mold used to make the penicillin‐like drug Aureomycin.

Faculty member A. Sterl Artley helps pioneer the Dick and Jane series of books, which by the 1970s had helped nearly 84 million elementary students learn to read.

The first black students are admitted. In 1951, Gus T. Ridgel, MA ’51, ScD ’96, becomes MU’s first black graduate.

Geneticists Ernest and Lotti Sears develop a strain of wheat that is resistant to rust disease. It becomes a worldwide food source. Ernest was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1964.

University of Missouri administrators, under U.S. Agency for International Development leadership, travel to India to help set up Indian agricultural universities.

KOMU in 1953

1953: KOMU‐TV goes on the air as a lab for students majoring in broadcast journalism. Photo courtesy MU Archives c:11/6/2.

Dr. Fred Robbins, BA ’36, BS Med ’38, ScD ’58, receives the Nobel Prize for research that leads to a polio vaccine.

Mizzou’s baseball team wins the College World Series, the first‐ever national championship in any team sport for the school.

The first class of four‐year medical students is enrolled.

Al Abram Jr.

Al Abram Jr.

Al Abram Jr. is the first African‐American to receive an athletic scholarship. He plays basketball from 1957 until 1960, and he is the university’s fourth‐highest scorer in 1959.

University of Missouri Medical Center, now University Hospital, opens, replacing Parker Memorial Hospital and Noyes Hospital, now Parker and Noyes halls.

Plant scientist Gyorgy Redei is hired. He pioneers the use of Arabidopsis as a model for the study of the genetics of flowering plants, which becomes a standard worldwide.

William Peden establishes the University of Missouri Press.

The Missouri Students Association is created, significantly increasing the voice of students in university affairs.

black and white photo of the 1961 Orange Bowl

Orange Bowl vs. Navy, Jan. 2, 1961

In November, Mizzou is ranked No. 1 for the first time in football after a 41–19 win at Oklahoma. The Tigers are upset the next week at home against Kansas (with the game later being forfeited to Mizzou) but go on to win their first‐ever bowl game (21–14 over Navy in the Orange Bowl) and end the season ranked fifth — MU’s highest final ranking until the 2007 squad finished fourth.

Kappa Alpha Psi becomes the first black fraternity at MU. The first black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, is established in 1964.

The men’s indoor track and field team wins the NCAA Championship.

MU completes construction of its nuclear research reactor.

The Legion of Black Collegians is created by students including now Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton, BA ’68, JD ’71, and now Director of Organizational Development for MU Extension Julie Nelson Middleton, BS Ed ’71, EdSp ’92, PhD ’94, to represent the black student community at MU.

Arvarh Strickland is appointed professor of history, becoming MU’s first black tenure‐track faculty member.


Research at MU results in home dialysis for kidney patients.

Dr. John C. Schuder develops the first automatic and completely implanted defibrillator for the human heart, successfully testing it on a dog.

MU’s first black Homecoming queen, Jill Young, is crowned.

MU’s first Women’s Studies course is taught.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching publishes its first classification of American colleges and universities. MU is grouped among the nation’s best universities that confer the most doctoral degrees and participate in the most federally funded research.

Don Downing, BS BA ’79, JD ’82, is the first Homecoming king.


The first issue of The Missouri Review is published. Today, it is nationally recognized as one of the top university literary magazines.

The interdisciplinary Food for the 21st Century Program is established and, in addition to other accomplishments, eventually produces 15 soybean varieties and two wheat varieties.

Professor Clyde Ruffin establishes the Black Theatre Workshop (now named the World Theatre Workshop). It is one of only a few university‐based theater groups in the nation focused on works by, for and about African‐Americans.

Psychology faculty member Donald Kausler publishes the definitive book on the psychology of aging, now in its third edition.

MU pediatric cardiologist Zuhdi Lababidi performs the world’s first pediatric angioplasty, which corrects aortic valve stenosis in newborns.

Students from the four campuses gain a nonvoting seat on University of Missouri Board of Curators.

The UM System establishes the Missouri South African Education Program committee to aid South Africans disadvantaged by apartheid. The University of Missouri becomes the first university in the world to establish relations with a historically black university in South Africa during the time of apartheid.

The Shack, a campus hangout, is destroyed by fire on Halloween night.

The Truman Conference is established in honor of President Harry S Truman in order to strengthen the bond between the University of Missouri and its many Korean alumni, while also celebrating the historic relations between the U.S. and Republic of Korea.

MU student Debbye Turner, DVM ’91, is crowned Miss America.

Beetle Bailey sculpture

1992: A life‐sized sculpture of comic‐strip character Beetle Bailey is unveiled on campus. It is moved to its current location in front of the Reynolds Alumni Center in 1999. Photo by Mary Fama.

The National Science Foundation recognizes Mizzou for offering one of the 10 best programs in the nation for involving undergraduates in research.

MU’s general education program receives the Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Wife‐and‐husband team Barbara, M Ed ’79, EdSp ’82, PhD ’85, and Robert Reys, EdD ’66, found the Show‐Me Center, a National Science Foundation‐supported information clearinghouse for the development of a standards‐based mathematics curriculum for middle‐school students.


A team of researchers from MU and the Dow Chemical Co. receives FDA approval for Quadramet, a radiochemical treatment for bone cancer pain. The drug is one of a series of MU radiopharmaceutical discoveries that have provided important new therapies for cancer patients.

The softball team wins MU’s first Big 12 team championship.

With Washington University and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, the Missouri Botanical Garden and Monsanto, MU is a founding partner of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. The center’s mission is to find solutions for worldwide hunger, disease and the depletion of the earth’s natural resources.

MU launches its award‐winning Global Scholars Program; the Asian Affairs Center is established at MU; and the European Union Center (now the Missouri Transatlantic Center) is established at MU.


Chemists Jerry Atwood, Leonard Barbour and William Orr publish research that paves the way for better electronic devices and “smart” drugs, which deliver treatment to cells that need it.

Giovanni Vignale and his student Irene D’Amico, PhD ’00, theorize that spinning electrons would be slowed by friction as they move through a semiconductor. The insight will play a key role in the development of quantum computing.

MU renames the Black Culture Center in honor of Lloyd L. Gaines and Marian O’Fallon Oldham.

MU’s Randall Prather, with Immerge BioTherapeutics, clones the first miniature swine in which a specific gene that causes human rejection is “knocked out” of the DNA. This takes scientists a step closer to the possibility of pig‐to‐human organ transplantation.

A team of MU researchers led by Professor Wynn Volkert, PhD ’68, wins a $10 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to create a cancer‐imaging center to foster new methods of cancer detection and treatment.

Professor Emeritus Robert Benfer leads an excavation team, including 11 Mizzou students, that unearths the Temple of the Fox at a site near Buena Vista, Peru. The 33‐foot stepped‐pyramid temple is a thousand years older than anything of its kind previously found.

Cambio Center is established at MU for research and outreach regarding Latinos.

Reynolds Journalism Institute

Reynolds Journalism Institute

A $31 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation establishes the Reynolds Journalism Institute, which opens in 2008.

Biochemist Bruce McClure determines the molecular mechanism by which flowering plants recognize which pollens are appropriate for fertilization.

A team of researchers led by MU’s Michael Roberts discovers that culturing embryonic stem cells in a low‐oxygen environment significantly slows their rate differentiation.

An artifact analysis at MU’s Research Reactor determines that the ancient Olmec people of Central Mexico were the progenitors of Mesoamerica’s first cultural flowering. The finding, effectively ending a 50‐year‐old debate, was published in the Feb. 18, 2005, issue of Science magazine.


MU’s Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory team led by Jimi Cook, DVM ’94, PhD ’98, develops biological joints — living tissue to replace arthritic joints — and tests them successfully in dogs.

Quarterback Chase Daniel, BS BA ’09, is selected as a Heisman Trophy finalist after leading the Tigers to a No. 1 ranking and a 38–7 win over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

MU Veterans Center, a one‐stop‐shop for veterans transitioning to campus life, opens.

MU celebrates the conclusion of the For All We Call Mizzou comprehensive fundraising campaign, which raised more than $1 billion. At the time, MU was one of only 20 public universities to reach that mark.

M. Frederick Hawthorne

Chemist M. Frederick Hawthorne

ESPN GameDay makes its first appearance at Mizzou during Homecoming, and Mizzou upsets top‐ranked Oklahoma.

The University of Missouri joins the Southeastern Conference.

The university’s $75 million biomass boiler goes online, producing more steam and electricity than the coal boiler it replaces.

MU researcher M. Frederick Hawthorne develops a new radiation therapy that puts cancer into remission in mice without side effects.