The University of Missouri-Columbia (abbreviated UMC and nicknamed Mizzou) is an institution of higher learning located in Columbia, Missouri and is the main campus in the University of Missouri system. Columbia is the flagship campus of the University of Missouri system with approximately 24,000 students. UMC is also sometimes called MU and, rarely, Missouri University.


UMC was founded in 1839 as part of the Geyer Act to establish a state university, the first west of the Mississippi River. During the American Civil War, supports of the Union wanted to move the campus to a "more loyal" area. Tensions forced the university to close its doors for parts of 1862.

The original tombstone of Thomas Jefferson resides on the MU campus. Jefferson's heirs gave it to the campus in July 1883 because it was the first state university in the Louisiana Purchase territory.

Women were first admitted to the university in 1867, but only to the teachers' school. They were granted full admission in 1871.

On January 9, 1892, the school's main academic building, simply called Academic Hall, burned to the ground, leaving little more than six stone columns standing. The columns, which still stand today, became a symbol of the campus and form the center of Francis Quadrangle, the oldest part of campus. This section, where the buildings are built of red brick, are known as "red campus." East of the quadrangle, many buildings were built in 1913 and 1914 of white limestone. This section is known as "white campus."

In 1908, the world's first school of journalism was founded at UMC. Today, UMC is known for its journalism and agriculture programs.

The University of Missouri and Civil Rights

In the winter of 1935, four graduates of Lincoln University--a traditionally black school about 30 miles away in Jefferson City, Missouri--were denied admission to UMC's graduate school. One of the students, Lloyd L. Gaines, brought his case to the United States Supreme Court. On December 12, 1938, in a landmark 6-2 decision, the court ordered the state of Missouri to admit Gaines to UMC's law school or provide a facility of equal stature. Gaines, however, disappeared in Chicago on March 19, 1939.

Although Gaines did not survive to benefit from the decision, the case led directly to the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in education unconstitutional.

The UM Board of Curators renamed the school's Black Culture Center in Gaines' honor in 2001.

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