In 1960, the Post World War II population boom and the G.I Bill created a flood of potential college students across the nation. In St. Louis, the only colleges and universities available were all private and available data pointed to an educational crisis within 10 years. Those wanting to enter college from St. Louis County alone would jump from 5,185 to 24,858. In anticipation of the flood of new students, the Normandy School District passed a bond issue to purchase the 128-acre Bellerive Country Club for $600,000. A committee of 28 citizens and school district leaders was formed to study the future educational needs of the district. Known as the “Committee of 28,” they kept their eyes on the property, the growing need for a public institution of higher education in St. Louis, and the State Legislature.
UMSL’s first administrator, James Bugg, taught history at the University of Missouri–Columbia and was asked in 1963 to take over the St. Louis campus as dean of the faculty. He was named chancellor in 1965 and given the lofty goal of overseeing construction of 25 buildings to handle 25,000 students by 1975.
A dedication ceremony for St. Louis’ first public university, the University of Missouri at St. Louis, was held Sept. 15, 1963. More than 1,500 people attended. Ed Monaco, chairman of the Committee of 28; Gov. John Dalton; James Finch, president of the University of Missouri System Board of Curators; Elmer Ellis, president of the University of Missouri were principal speakers.
Fall of 1964 saw enrollment grow to 2,639. It was evident the old country club building would not accommodate the exploding enrollment. Construction began that year on Benton Hall, UMSL’s first new building.
Chuck Smith was offered the job of athletic director and basketball coach in 1966. He immediately set out to build two team sports, basketball and tennis – with no athletic facilities. The teams were named the Rivermen. Basketball players practiced at Normandy Junior High School next door and played their games at Concordia Seminary in Clayton. The basketball season finished with a 12-7 record.
Keeping with the river imagery, the first issue of the student newspaper was named The Current and published Nov. 18, 1966. Barbara Duepner, a junior, was named editor. The weekly student newspaper spawned many journalism careers and continues today.
Celebrations for UMSL’s first graduating class in 1967 included a banquet at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel. The class totaled approximately 250 graduates. By 1969, there were 68 students who received master’s degrees in education, the first group to do so.
David Ganz, previously a business faculty member, was named the new dean of student affairs for the 1969-1970 academic year. Student protests of the war in Vietnam kept the new dean busy, but they were generally peaceful.
Bob Bone, UMSL’s all-time basketball scoring leader, played from 1973-77 amassing a total 2,678 points. He was a three-time All American and holds numerous records in addition to his scoring title. Bone is one of nearly 70 student athletes in UMSL’s Sports Hall of Fame.
UMSL celebrated its 10th anniversary with special events throughout the year and a big cake. From left, Blanche Touhill, then professor of history; Curator William Thompson, Althea Mathews, SGA president; Marty Hendin, alumni association president; Chancellor Joseph Hartley and UM President Brice Ratchford.
The 1973 men’s soccer team, led by head coach Don Dallas, captured the NCAA Division II Championship ending with an 11-0-3 regular season record. The team went on to beat California State University at Fullerton in the championship game 3-0. Kevin Missey scored two goals and Mark LeGrand scored one.
Arnold Grobman (center) was named chancellor in 1975. The following May he conferred UMSL’s first Ph.D. on Richard Garnett, a staff psychologist in the juvenile court. Grobman served as chancellor for 10 years.
With the purchase in 1976 of the Marillac College campus just south of Natural Bridge, UMSL created a new South Campus. The School of Education was the first to move in and after years of planning and budget wrangling, the School of Optometry was approved by the state legislature.
No longer able to keep up with the needs of the 66-year-old clubhouse of the old Bellerive Country Club, the university demolished the building in 1977. The only building on campus when the university opened in 1963, it accommodated classrooms, a library, cafeteria and many offices.
Among the many dignitaries, scholars and noted personalities who have visited UMSL, was landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams right. He is talking to James Enyeart, who at the time was director of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
UMSL's Black History Project from 1980 to 1983 documented the history of African Americans in St. Louis city and county using records, correspondence, photographs and publications dating back to 1911. In that first year, research assistants Isaac Darden (left) and Ina Neal Watson surveyed over 90 organizations and individuals and contacted 350 potential donors.
Chancellor Arnold Grobman helps a staff member out of the new shuttlebus in the Fall of 1981. The bus, named the Commuter Van Pool, transported students between North and South Campus and from Hanley Road.
Chancellor Grobman, who introduced the concept of an urban university and the Chancellor’s Report to the Community, noted at the university’s 20th anniversary that an education crisis still existed in St. Louis with 60 percent of its population undereducated. He invited support of the St. Louis community and promised that “their investment in a better educated St. Louis populace would pay incalculable dividends far into the future.”
Marguerite Ross Barnett served as UMSL’s chancellor from 1986 to 1990. She was the first woman and the first African American to serve in that post. She is credited with helping transform UMSL into a nationally recognized metropolitan research campus.
UMSL boasted four curators professors in 1987, so named for their sustained national and international reputations for research and/or creativity. They were (left to right) Robert Murray, chemistry; Neal Primm, history; Jacob Leventhal, physics and Eugene Meehan, political science.
The 1990s opened with the departure of Chancellor Marguerite Ross Barnett (right) and ended with Blanche M. Touhill (left) who served as chancellor from 1991 to 2002. During Touhill’s tenure as chancellor, UMSL added 30 academic programs, 32 endowed professorships, 138 acres and several new buildings, including the Millennium Student Center and a performing arts center that bears her name.
Commencement ceremonies always include honorary degree recipients. In 1992, UMSL bestowed honorary degrees on two St. Louis leaders, Colin Graham, artistic director of Opera Theater of St. Louis and Dr. Helen Nash, a pioneering pediatrician and the first African American doctor hired at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
About 3,000 people packed the Mark Twain Gymnasium in 1995 to see poet Maya Angelou, the featured speaker at the Black History Month program. Chancellor Blanche M. Touhill and Angelou are seen waiting for their introductions.
Through the generous contributions of philanthropist E. Desmond Lee (left) and his wife, Mary Ann (right), an endowed professorship program was created in 1996 linking the knowledge and resources of the university with public organizations throughout the St. Louis region. Today, the Des Lee Collaborative Vision is made up of more than 30 endowed professors who work with more than 100 partners and community organizations to enrich the quality of life throughout the region improving education and creating opportunities for underserved populations.
In November of 1996, UMSL and the St. Louis Mercantile Library, the first library west of the Mississippi, announced a partnership that would bring the Mercantile Library and its historic collections to campus. With UMSL’s electronic catalog system and access to national and international libraries, the Mercantile’s collections became accessible worldwide for use by students, professors, historians,researchers and the public. Pictured (from left) in this 1997 photo are: Curators Malaika Horne and Mary Gillespie; UM System President Mel George; Ruth Bryant, Mercantile Library Board president; Chancellor Touhill; and Curator James McHugh.
Tim Russert, then moderator of “Meet the Press,” and political analyst for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today” shows, was the keynote speaker at the annual Founders Dinner in 1998. Other notable speakers that decade included UMSL Global Citizen Award winners Lech Walesa, the first democratically elected president of Poland and John Hume, one of the primary architects of peace in Ireland.
Ken Anderson, professor of art gave a tour of the new east wing of the Fine Arts Building at its dedication in 1999. Four new academic programs became a reality during the 1990s: bachelor of fine arts in art and art history, a master’s of fine arts in creative writing, and master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing were added.
A parade, three-story balloon drop and music marked the grand opening of the Millennium Student Center Nov. 28, 2000. The 165,000 square-foot-building cost $30 million paid in large part by student fees approved in 1995. The building pulled together into one space student services that had been spread all over campus.
In 2001, UMSL honored authors Mary Kimbrough and Margaret Dagen and their book, “Victory Without Violence,” the story of a small group of St. Louisans who fought racial segregation in public accommodations more than a decade before the civil rights marches of the 1960s. Pictured with Chancellor Touhill next to a bust of the late civil rights activist Marian Oldham, are members of the the Committee of Racial Equality: Mary Kimbrough and Margaret Dagen, seated and Charles Oldham and Norman Seay. Seay served as head of UMSL’s Office of Equal Opportunity from 1987 to 2000.
Thomas F. George became the seventh chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis on Sept. 1, 2003. An active researcher in chemistry and physics, he is also an accomplished jazz pianist. Today, the campus he leads is made up of nearly 17,000 students, 2,500 faculty and staff members, 40 academic buildings and a budget of $196 million.
In 2005, the annual Greek Studies Conference featured an appearance by Academy Award winning actress Olympia Dukakis (center) pictured with Michael Cosmopoulos, the Hellenic Government–Karakas Family Foundation Endowed Professor in Greek Studies (left), and Chancellor Tom George.
George Paz, a UMSL alumnus and chairman, president and CEO of Express Scripts, announced in 2005 he would relocate ESI’s headquarters to the UMSL campus. By 2011 the company, one of the largest pharmacy benefit management companies, had completed four buildings. Pictured from left are Paz and Chancellor George with Express Scripts in the background.
UMSL dedicated a bigger than life-size statue of Wayne Goode in 2006 to honor the former state representative and senator who spent nearly 50 years serving the people of north St. Louis County. Fondly known as “the father of UMSL,” Goode was named to the University of Missouri Board of Curators in 2009 and its chairman in 2012.
Founders Dinner The university’s first capital campaign ended in 2012 surpassing its initial goal of $100 million and a subsequent $150 million goal. In seven years, Chancellor George helped raise more than $154 million from 55,000 gifts. Of those contributors, 31 gave more than $1 million. Eight of those donors were UMSL alumni. The success of the campaign was a perfect coming-of-age-story for the young university.
After more than 40 years on campus, the university’s award-winning NPR station, St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU moved its offices and studios to the new UMSL at Grand Center building, 3651 Olive St. Located right in the middle of St. Louis’ arts and entertainment district, the $12 million building houses nine broadcast studios, a community education center and classrooms and editing rooms for UMSL’s New Media programs.
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