History of the University

Missouri State University history, Carrington Hall

Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. During its early years, the institution’s primary purpose was preparing teachers for the public school systems in the southwest region of Missouri. Here are some important dates in the history of the University:


The State Fruit Experiment Station, located in Mountain Grove, Mo., is established by Missouri Legislature. It remained a state agency until 1974, when it became part of what is now Missouri State University. Therefore, it is the oldest segment of the University. The Mountain Grove campus is now part of the University System.


The main campus is founded in Springfield, Mo.

June 11, 1906

The first class of 543 students starts classes in off-campus facilities.

1906-'07 school year

Maroon and white are chosen as the school’s colors. The Bear is chosen as its mascot.

August 10, 1907

The cornerstone is laid for the first building on campus.

January 1909

Academic Hall (now Carrington Hall) is completed, making it the first building on the Springfield campus.


Fourth District Normal School changes its name to Southwest Missouri State Teachers College.


The institution’s name changes for a second time to Southwest Missouri State College, displaying the school’s expansion beyond teacher education to liberal arts and sciences.


A residence center is established in West Plains, Mo., for students taking first- or second-year classes. This grew into another campus of the University.


Southwest Missouri State College changes its name to Southwest Missouri State University, in recognition of diversity of programs at the undergraduate level and development of graduate programs.


Enrollment exceeds 10,000 for the first time.


Enrollment exceeds 20,000 for the first time.


The Missouri General Assembly gives the University its public affairs mission.


The institution becomes Missouri State University, reflecting its enrollment of tens of thousands of students, as well as higher admissions standards and increased graduate programs.