Lakeland traces its beginnings to German immigrants who, fleeing from religious controversy in Europe, traveled to North America and eventually to the Sheboygan area where they settled in 1847.
In 1862, they built Missionshaus (Mission House), a combined academy-college-seminary. The school provided training in the liberal arts followed by a traditional seminary curriculum, as most of the early students were destined to become ministers.
As the needs of its students changed, Mission House gradually broadened its purpose. By the end of the century, enrollment was no longer limited to pre-theological students and the college had developed strong programs of study in a wider number of disciplines.
Known simply as Mission House for 95 years, the college adopted the name Lakeland in 1956 and the seminary moved to Minneapolis/St. Paul in 1962 to become United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. The era of Mission House had ended, but Lakeland became heir to its campus, tradition and educational mission. Eventually a satellite campus was established in West Allis to serve Milwaukee area students.
2012 was Lakeland's sesquicentennial year. In celebration of this anniversary, the college showcased its rich history in a variety of multi-media approaches surrounding the peak festivities in June of 2012.
Stephen A. Gould, 14th President of Lakeland College, retired in June 2012, and was named President Emeritus. He was briefly succeeded by Michael A. Grandillo, who resigned in March of 2013. The Board of Trustees promoted Senior Vice President Daniel W. Eck to Interim President.
Lakeland College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Muskies are a member of the Northern Athletics Conference (NAC). Lakeland was also a member of the Lake Michigan Conference until the spring of 2006. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball. The school colors are blue and gold.