From the President
Columbia College and Women’s History Month Go Together
Since assuming the role of interim president, I have been reading “Columbia College: 150 Years of Courage, Commitment and Change” by Faculty Emerita Paulina Batterson, longtime CC professor of government. Batterson’s book celebrates the Columbia College experience “not only as an inspiration, but also a lesson in creativity, loyalty and dedication.”
As I read about the early struggles to establish the first college for women west of the Mississippi in the bucolic small town of Columbia, Missouri, in the mid-1800s, I realized that Women’s History Month and the founding of Christian Female College, now Columbia College, go together in spectacular fashion.
There was a time when leaders of elite Eastern men’s colleges, led by President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard, ardently opposed admitting women to their institutions. Batterson relates how Christian College “… had the audacity to open almost a generation before obstructionism in the East gave way and decades before the founding of such prestigious eastern women’s colleges …” as Vassar, Wellesley and Radcliffe.
In a bold act completely outside accepted mores of the time, Christian College opened in 1851 not as a finishing school but as a truly complete collegiate experience. We never looked back, surviving changing conditions that forced many other colleges to close their doors forever.
With this remarkable history in tow, my wife, Lee, and I invite you to join us in paying homage to all the Christian College women, and those who followed them as graduates of Columbia College. They were trailblazers then and now, determined to make their own way in the world by study, exploration and newfound knowledge. They left us with a priceless legacy that today points the way to a boundless future.
Dr. David Russell, Interim President