(Kansas City, Missouri) - Founded in 1839 as the first publicly supported institution of higher education in Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase territory, the University of Missouri has grown from a cluster of buildings on a field in rough-and-tumble Boone County to an economic and scholastic powerhouse with an enrollment of nearly 35,000 and annual research expenditures of approximately $250 million.
Brian Burnes of The Kansas City Star — one of MU's more than 275,000 graduates — has written a book commemorating the school's 175th anniversary, Mizzou 175: The Remarkable Story of Missouri's Flagship University from 1839 to 2014. He discusses the 220-page, coffee-table publication and the work that went into it on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Published by Kansas City Star Books, Mizzou 175 is packed with hundreds of historical and contemporary photographs along with Burnes' history of the university.
Mizzou was established, in large part, due to the efforts of then-Missouri lawmaker James S. Rollins, who saw the need for higher education in central Missouri. It held its first commencement in 1843 - a three-hour ceremony for two graduates, cousins Robert L. Todd and Robert B. Todd. The athletics program began with the formation of a football squad in 1890, and its rivalry with the neighboring University of Kansas was born with a meeting on the field a year later.
Today, MU is one of six American public universities with units in law, medicine, and veterinary medicine on one campus, and it has the most powerful research reactor of any university in the U.S. It's one of only 36 public universities in the U.S. with membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU).
Belying that modern strength was an early precariousness. "When I got on campus as a freshman in 1972, (the school) was huge to me. I assumed it was a vast monolithic enterprise that had rolled through the decades," says Burnes, who earned a bachelor of journalism degree from MU in 1976. "It wasn't like that at all."
Mizzou closed temporarily during the Civil War, for example, and "if things had not gone just so, who knows?" Burnes says. "We might not know Mizzou as we know it today."
Admission to his presentation is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.