The University of Missouri at Columbia, abbreviated UMC and nicknamed "Mizzou," is the largest campus in the University of Missouri System. Approximately 27,000 students enroll each year, and UMC often is considered to be the flagship campus of the system.
The University of Missouri was founded by the Geyer Act, passed by the Missouri State General Assembly in February 1839. At the time, the university was the only public institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River. For better accessibility, a movement began to shift the university’s location to a site near what was then the state's main artery of commerce and transportation, the Missouri River.
A spirited competition to raise the most in cash and land subscriptions for construction and support of the university, took place among several counties. The winner was Boone County. Thus Columbia, the county seat, became the site of the University of Missouri.
During the Civil War, a debate developed over where to place a college of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, which was provided for under provisions of the Morrill Act of 1862. After much rancorous disputation, a compromise was reached in early 1870 that called for placement of the new college on the Columbia campus, and creation of a School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla.
The original Thomas Jefferson tombstone rests on the UMC campus. Women were first admitted to the university in 1867, but only to the teachers' school. They were granted full admission in 1871. The oldest part of campus is the remains of the school's main academic building, Academic Hall, which was burned on January 9, 1892. The surviving columns became a campus symbol and form the center of Francis Quadrangle. The area around the quadrangle, where the buildings are built of red brick, is the "red campus." East of the quadrangle, numerous buildings were built of white limestone in 1913 and 1914. That section is the "white campus."
Over the years, the university acquired regional and national distinction. To improve accessibility for the residents of St. Louis and Kansas City, the university expanded to a four-campus system in the 1960s. In the Spring of 1963, the trustees of the University of Kansas City transferred control of their institution to the Board of Curators and President of the University of Missouri. The campus was further extended when the school board of Normandy School District donated the buildings and grounds of a former country club to be the St. Louis campus.
The University of Missouri also offers various recreation and entertainment services.