Founded in 1833, Stephens College is proud to be the second-oldest women's college in the country and the first institution of higher education in Columbia, Missouri.
From the beginning, Stephens has developed a tradition of cutting-edge educational programs that provide young women with classroom and experiential learning opportunities like no other institution in higher education.
Stephens believes in the power of a women’s undergraduate education. We also believe in the power of education to change lives, and offer co-educational graduate programs as well as a children's school and youth programs that celebrate and encourage lifelong learning. Our mission is to Learn. Grow. Lead.
Enjoy a visual walk-through of Stephens history through the photos from the archive.
If you'd like to delve deeper into the history of Stephens, we invite you to enjoy our A Look Back blog. Read about the lives of Stephens women as we walk you through the highlights of old yearbooks.
1833 Columbia Female Academy opens under the helm of Lucy H. Wales.
1855 The Academy closes; trustees quickly establish its successor, the Columbia Female Baptist Academy.
1870 James L. Stephens endows the College with $20,000 and the institution is renamed in his honor.
1912 James Madison Wood becomes the president of Stephens College.
1921 Jessie Burrall brings the Burrall Bible Class to Stephens. It becomes so popular, thousands of students from both Stephens and the University of Missouri attend.
1921 The Ten Ideals are born, ten values to which Stephens women pledge to adhere.
1923 Science Hall — now Hickman Hall — opens.
1925 Stephens College opens a children's school on campus, serving both education majors and community school children.
1926 The Prince of Wales riding club, the country's oldest continuously active riding club, forms on campus.
1933 Campus celebrates the 100th anniversary of Stephens College.
1944 Stephens introduces the first aviation program for women.
1960 Stephens begins an innovative new honors house plan.
1970 Stephens debuts Stephens Without Walls (now the Graduate, Online and Certificate Programs).
1983 Patsy Sampson becomes first female president of Stephens College.
1998 Carl Stephens Otto retires from the Board of Trustees. He is the fifth and last generation of the Stephens family to serve the College.
2004 Stephens becomes a pet-friendly campus and later earns the title of the pet-friendliest college.
2006 Citizen Jane Film Festival begins at Stephens College.
2009 Dr. Dianne Lynch becomes 24th president of the College.
2014 Stephens receives a $15 million unrestricted donation, the largest gift in the College's history.
2016 Stephens opens the Center for Health Sciences in Sampson Hall, and welcomes the first cohort of Master of Physician Assistant Studies students.
2017 Stephens starts the first varsity esports team at a women's college.
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