UMSL in the late 1960s

The North Campus at UMSL in the late 1960s still looked a lot like the former Bellerive Country Club. The old clubhouse overlooked Bugg Lake and housed the cafeteria, bookstore, library, classrooms and offices.

The buzz has begun. Tell people you read it here first!

Officially, the yearlong jubilee to celebrate the founding of the University of Missouri–St. Louis 50 years ago doesn’t kick off until January 2013. Today, however, committees are forming, and plans are being drawn up for the biggest event in the young university’s history.

“We hope to include as many people as possible – alumni, faculty, students, staff, donors, friends, all of our retirees,” said Tom George, UMSL’s chancellor. “The success of this institution over the last half century has depended on thousands of St. Louisans and we want them all to be a part of the celebration.”

A team of university leaders is chairing the Jubilee Steering Committee. They are: Ron Gossen, senior associate vice chancellor; Kathleen Haywood, associate dean, College of Education; Chris Scheetz, supervisor, Instructional Computing and former president of the Staff Association; Deborah Burris, director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, chief diversity officer; Michael Murray, professor of media studies and chairman of Faculty Senate and University Assembly.

The steering committee will establish two major planning groups – a comprehensive campus organizing committee and an external Jubilee Council – by fall of this year. Planning will take place through December 2012 with the official kickoff in January 2013. A variety of activities heralding the university’s 50th anniversary will include both campus and community wide events leading up to a major celebration planned for Founders Dinner in fall 2013.

Starting right now, UMSL’s friends and family are being urged to gather all their memorabilia. A website is being developed to hold 50 years of UMSL memories. There will be opportunities to serve on a committee or volunteer for one of the many events. Watch for more announcements in the coming weeks.

It’s time to think back: where were you in 1963, 1983, 2003? To jog your memory, here’s an abbreviated timeline in UMSL’s history.


• September 15, 1963 more than 1,500 people gathered on the grounds of the former Bellerive Country Club in North County to dedicate the new University of Missouri at St. Louis, the region’s first public university.

• That first year, 23 faculty members taught 672 freshmen and sophomores in classrooms constructed in the clubhouse of the former country club. It was the only building on the 128-acre campus.

• By the end of the decade the student newspaper, The Current, chronicled life at UMSL. Barbara Duepner was its first editor. Many Current editors went on to become noted media professionals. The Thomas Jefferson Library, Benton and Clark halls and the Blue Metal Building (which later became the Telecommunity Center) were completed in the first few years.

1970s – 1980s

• Enrollment topped 10,000 in 1970 and the war in Vietnam triggered peaceful protests on campus.

• The 1970s also marked a dramatic physical expansion of the campus with the addition of seven new buildings including the Mark Twain Athletic and Fitness Center, J.C. Penney Hall and the Social Sciences and Business Center. South Campus was created with the purchase of the Marillac campus in 1976. The acquisition added another seven buildings that housed the College of Education, the College of Optometry and other programs.

• By 1981 UMSL offered 78 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs.

• UMSL’s 20th anniversary in 1983 noted enrollment had swelled to 11,500 with 409 full-time and 119 part-time faculty.

1990s – 2000s

• New academic programs at the time included a Bachelor of Fine Arts program in art and art history, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and addition of master’s and doctoral programs in nursing.

• Two major new buildings dominated growth in the new century: The Millennium Student Center and the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. Three new parking garages were constructed on North Campus and one on South Campus.

• Once a strictly commuter campus, student housing opportunities grew with the acquisition of existing student housing on the Daughters of Charity and Incarnate word properties. Two new residential buildings were added during this time period: University Meadows Apartments and Oak Hall.


• Since its earliest days, UMSL has been a diverse campus. African American students account for 20 percent of on-campus enrollment and women make up 59 percent. International students come from 62 countries. Women make up 51 percent of the faculty; African Americans 12 percent. Both percentages are above national averages.

• UMSL is the largest university in the region, third largest in the state. The campus contains 350 acres with 70 structures. Metro operates two rail stations on campus and a bike and running trail is part of a region wide network.

• More than 16,000 students attend UMSL. Nearly 1,000 students live in on-campus housing. There are 1,107 faculty members who deliver 94 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs and approximately 2,700 full-time and part-time staff help make the university work.

• More than 58,000 alumni live and work in the St. Louis area, the largest university population in the region. They are leaders in the world of business, education, health care, government, the arts and public policy.

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel