History of Ozarks


Different is in Our DNA

Since 1834, we’ve been pushing boundaries and blazing new trails.  It’s a tradition we plan to keep going.

A HISTORY OF FIRSTS

A history that began more than 180 years ago…University of the Ozark History
first University in Oklahoma/Arkansas Territory

A tradition of forward thinking.
first university in Arkansas to admit women

A tradition of equality.
first historically white university in Arkansas to graduate an African-American & integrate athletics

A tradition of innovation.
first university in the nation to establish a program for students with learning disabilities

A tradition of global responsibility.
first of three universities in Arkansas to partner with the Walton International Scholars Program

From its inception at a two-room log house in Cane Hill …to its 45-acre campus with 20+ buildings, four abiding traditions remain:
• Frontier grit
• Faith in our students, one another, and in our sacred calling
• A willingness to take chances and make sacrifices
• A respect both for scholarship and “the work of our hands”

Today, we continue to break new ground, adapting our curriculum to create a generation of bold new thinkers with the skills to lead in a changing world.

 The Cane Hill Years

Oct. 28, 1834 Cumberland Presbyterian officials meet to establish Cane Hill School in Cane Hill, Arkansas, 20 miles SW of Fayetteville. Classes begin in two-room log school house. In 1859, the Rev. Fontaine Richard “F.R.” Earle was named president. The college closes in May of 1861 as President Earle and most of the all-male student body join the Confederate army. Cane Hill is the site of a Civil War skirmish prior to the Battle of Prairie Grove. In 1864, all but one building was burned down by occupying Union troops. In 1875, women are admitted, creating the first co-educational college in Arkansas, and two years later the first 5 graduates were awarded degrees. Cane Hill College closes its doors in 1891.

Down from the Hills

Sept. 8, 1891 Arkansas Cumberland College is opened in Clarksville as the direct successor of Cane Hill College with F. R. Earle as President. It began with only one stately building, Cumberland Hall, which had been the site for the first deaf school in Arkansas. Substantial improvement and progress in the affairs of the College, including a fairly strong endowment, were evident by 1906. By 1917 a new women’s dormitory, Grove Hall, had been constructed. Athletic contests were held in baseball, football and basketball with various colleges and high schools throughout the state.

A New Name

In 1921, the college changes its name to The College of the Ozarks after Cumberland Presbyterians merge with main body of Presbyterian Church. In 1924-25 the College was admitted to the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In the mid-20s, the president, Dr. Wiley Hurie sets out to New York City on the first fundraising campaign. He raised $300,000. The money was used to finish the men’s dormitory, MacLean Hall. The 30s brought the Great Depression, but in true Ozarks style, the College persisted. In 1933, the (then) Raymond Munger Memorial Chapel was completed with the help of 50 students. They earned tuition by working on the construction.

A New Address

In the early 1940s, during World War II, the campus was turned over to the U.S. Navy, first in training pilots under the National Civil Aeronautics Program for the Army and Navy and later as a training school in electrical engineering and radio mechanics for the Navy. While the Navy had control of the campus, The College moved down the street to the Clarksville First Presbyterian Church. Veterans return home following the war and enrollment doubles from pre-war levels. The College also established the state’s first fully accredited, four-year pharmacy school in the late 1940s.

Social Change

In 1957, Ozarks is the first traditionally white college in Arkansas to admit African American students. Two years later, five students became the first African Americans to earn an undergraduate degree from a predominately white college in Arkansas. In 1963, Sylvester Benson becomes the first African-American to play intercollegiate sports at a traditionally white college. In 1971, two years before the Federal Rehabilitation Act was passed, Ozarks establishes the first program in the country designed specifically to help students with learning disabilities at the college level – The Jones Learning Center.

The Walton Legacy

In 1975, Helen Walton was elected to the Board of Trustees and served on the Board for more than 20 years. Sam and Helen Walton establish the Walton International Scholarship Program in 1985 to promote free enterprise and democracy. The fist Walton class arrives on campus that fall and the first graduate in 1987. Name-sake buildings on campus include the Walton Fine Arts Center and the Robson Library. Mrs. Walton also helped to kick of the Pride & Promise Campaign with a $39.5 million gift in 1997. In 2016, University of the Ozarks received a $10 million gift from the Walton Family Foundation establishing an endowed scholarship program to assist promising students from low and middle income families.

The Eagle Has Landed

1987 was a BIG year for Ozarks. The College changed its name to University of the Ozarks. We also changed mascots from the Mountaineers to the Eagles.

An Era of Promise

In 1996, campus sees major changes through the $19 million Bridging the Centuries Campaign: enclosed quad, new fountain, Robson Library and Boreham Business Building. Several buildings were also renovated. The next campaign, $60 million Pride & Promise, raised money for new apartment style housing and Walker Hall, which now houses Education and Communications. In 2011, $40 million Promise of Excellence Campaign secured the Rogers Conference Center, Mabee Fitness Center and Trustee Residence Hall. During these years, Ozarks saw transformational building, renovation, programming, and almost four-fold increase in the endowment.

In With The New

During the 2014-15 year, the Raymond Munger Memorial Chapel underwent a $2 Million renovation thanks to a gift from Mrs. Frances E. Wilson. The chapel is now known as the Munger-Wilson Memorial Chapel. A new Food For Thought community garden was created on campus with most of the vegetables from the garden being donated to local food banks and programs. Eight new sports programs were added: Competitive cheer, STUNT, men’s wrestling, men’s and women’s indoor distance track, men’s and women’s outdoor distance track, and clay target shooting.

A New Look

In 2016, the University made the decision to go test-optional. Ozarks also completed a rebranding initiative, introducing a new logo and marketing messaging.  Partnership agreements were signed with two universities in France, allowing for dual undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Climb Higher

In 2017, the University announced tuition will stay flat for the 5th consecutive year. Ozarks announced its latest $55 million fundraising campaign, Climb Higher, which will emphasize student scholarships as well as science and athletic facilities.

WHAT OUR STUDENTS DO

FALL COMMENCEMENT SET FOR DEC. 16

University of the Ozarks will award bachelor degrees to 19 graduating seniors during its 2017 … Read More

FULL-NEED TUITION SCHOLARSHIP

University of the Ozarks is introducing a new full-need tuition scholarship for students from Johnson … Read More

SNELL TO SERVE AS VISITING PASTOR

The Rev. Jeffrey Snell of Cuba, Mo., will visit University of the Ozarks during the … Read More

For nearly 200 years

The University of the Ozarks has been providing students the courage to be who they are and the freedom to be something more, assisting them on their journey to live a full life.