Stephens College

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Stephens College

Stephens College Logo.png

Established 1833
Type Private women's college
President Dianne Lynch
Students 1,000[1]
Location Columbia, Missouri, USA
38°57′01″N 92°19′23″W / 38.9503°N 92.3231°W / 38.9503; -92.3231Coordinates: 38°57′01″N 92°19′23″W / 38.9503°N 92.3231°W / 38.9503; -92.3231
Campus Urban, 86-acre (35 ha)
Colors maroon and gold
Athletics NAIA
Nickname Stars

Stephens College is a women's college located in Columbia, Missouri. It is the second oldest female educational establishment that is still a women's college in the United States. It was founded on August 24, 1833, as the Columbia Female Academy. In 1856, David H. Hickman helped secure the college's charter under the name The Columbia Female Baptist Academy. In the late 19th century it was renamed Stephens Female College after James L. Stephens endowed the college with $20,000. The campus includes a National Historic District: Stephens College South Campus Historic District.


Situated in the center of the state, Stephens is approximately 120 miles (193 km) from both Kansas City and St. Louis. Columbia is known as "College Town, USA" because of the 34,000 college students attending Stephens, the University of Missouri, and Columbia College. The Stephens campus is located near downtown Columbia.[2]


The College has a history of providing programming designed to give women real-world, relevant experience. Today, the College has five schools preparing women in subjects such as humanities and sciences, performing arts, fashion, marketing, graphic design, event planning, education, filmmaking and equestrian studies.[3]

In addition to undergraduate programs, Stephens offers Master's programs in education, counseling and strategic leadership.[4][5]

Study abroad[edit]

Stephens offers study abroad programs in France, England, Korea, Ecuador, Sweden, Ireland, Italy and Japan, although Stephens students have studied in numerous countries. International seminars and study tours also are available. Stephens College has what is known as a 'sister school' in Seoul, Korea, which many students from both schools interested in international studies take advantage of.


The Stephens faculty includes approximately 55 full-time instructors. Most have Ph.D.s or appropriate terminal degrees in their field. While faculty members conduct research (often with students), publish papers and present at conferences across the country, a commitment to women's education comes first. Teaching is the first priority for Stephens faculty.


Stephens has been ranked overall by various other organizations. U.S. News places it in the top third of all ranked regional colleges in the Midwest, but also considers it to be a "selective" school when it comes to admissions standards.[6]

Stephens is the only private college in mid-Missouri to be included in the Princeton Review's "Best 378 Colleges" guide.

Campus life[edit]

Stephens opened pet-friendly residence halls in 2004 and today is considered one of the most pet-friendly campuses in the country.[7] Unlike other campuses, there is no weight limit on dogs, and Stephens also allows birds, lizards, sugar gliders, and other pets.

Stephens is one of four women's colleges, along with Bennett College, Spelman College, and Brenau University, to have sororities on its campus. Sigma Sigma Sigma and Kappa Delta, both of which are National Panhellenic Conference sororities, have on-campus chapters. The sororities are governed by the Panhellenic Council and the Junior Panhellenic Council. Stephens students can also join historically Black or Asian sororities at the nearby University of Missouri campus.

Aside from the sororities, there are about 50 on-campus organizations Stephens students can join.

There are also about a dozen academic honor societies students can join: Mortar Board a nation wide senior honor society, Psi Chi, Alpha Lambda Delta the exclusive freshman honor society, Sigma Tau Delta the English honor society, Tri-Beta, Alpha Epilon Rho, Sigma Beta Delta, Chi Tau Epsilon, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Alpha Delta, and Pi Phi Rho.

The student newspaper, Stephens Life, is online with a magazine publication printed once a semester.

The award-winning student/faculty literary magazine, Harbinger, is released each spring during the traditional Harbinger Night celebration.[8]

Stephens College also holds the distinction of being the location of the Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society of the Two-Year College, despite the fact that Stephens College is no longer a two-year institution.

Stephens College owns the radio station KWWC-FM, "Sweet 90.5".

Citizen Jane Film Festival [edit]

Citizen Jane Film Festival

The Citizen Jane Film Festival premiered October 17–19, 2008. Citizen Jane is an annual film festival for the Columbia community and filmmakers from around the country. Films include the best of features, documentaries, animation, and experimental and short films, all showcasing women behind and in front of the camera.[9]


Stephens College teams are known as the Stars. The college competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC). Women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.


The Stephens College Alumnae Association has more than 20,000 members internationally. Alumnae are found in every state.

Notable alumnae[edit]

Alumnae distribution[edit]

In March 2006, Stephens released an interactive alumnae map showing the distribution of living alumnae throughout the United States. The metropolitan areas with the highest numbers of Stephens alumnae include:

Florida also has a particularly high concentration of Stephens alumnae, with 1,237 found statewide, especially in the central, eastern, and southern parts of the state. The Washington, D.C.-to-Boston corridor contains a heavy concentration as well, including 184 alumnae living in Manhattan.[10]

Historic buildings[edit]

Firestone Baars Chapel

Firestone Baars Chapel[edit]

The Firestone Baars Chapel was designed by world-famous Finnish architect Eero Saarinen who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The chapel symbolizes commitment to individual spiritual development and worship. The chapel is used for meditation, religious services, vespers, weddings, memorials and campus programs.

Historic Senior Hall[edit]

Historic Senior Hall dates back to 1841, when Oliver Parker bought the 8-acre (3.2 ha) tract of land on which the College was first located. In 1857, the Columbia Baptist Female College, which later became Stephens College, acquired the building. Until 1918, Historic Senior Hall was the only dormitory at the College. It was the tradition for the President of the Civic Association (now the Student Government Association) to occupy the first floor room just north of the Waugh Street entrance. Many generations of students feel this building is their tie to the past. A complete restoration of Historic Senior Hall began in the spring of 1987, and the building was rededicated in the spring of 1990. Senior Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.[11]

The South Quadrangle
The remaining portion of Senior Hall 
Senior Hall Front 
The president's mansion 
Senior Hall after destruction of eastern auditorium 
James Madison Woods Hall 
Senior Tower 
Columbia Hall 

Stephens traditions[edit]

Campus traditions at Stephens provide a bond between past and present students. Some traditions have changed to fit changing times, some traditions are very old, and some annual events may be traditions-in-the-making.

Alumnae Reunion

At Alumnae Reunion, the President of the Alumnae Association passes a lit candle to a representative of the senior class, symbolizing the passage from undergraduate years to alumnae responsibilities.


Since 1976, each senior passes a secret gift to the President when she shakes hands and receives her degree.

Door Slam

Door Slam is a special time signaling the beginning of “dead week” and 24-hour quiet hours during final exams.

Midnight Breakfast

Midnight Breakfast is held once every semester during final exams. To show support and encouragement to students up late studying, the campus dining hall opens up for several hours late in the evening to serve a full breakfast as a break from the stress. Traditionally the school brings in a D.J. and also sets up a dance floor to allow students to loosen up, eat, and refresh their minds and bodies for the upcoming tests. Each student is allowed to bring a guest of their choice, and several games and activities are including during the evening. The two on campus sororities Sigma Sigma Sigma and Kappa Delta provide a 'car bash' fundraiser.

Many other annual campus events are traditions in-the-making: President’s Leadership Seminar, Roblee Lecture Series, fashion show, Prince of Wales Club horse show, senior art show, spring dance concert, RA appreciation day, residence hall un-birthday parties, Black History Month, Spring/Fall Choral Concert, Midnight Mortar Board initiation, the roommate game and many more.

Ghost of Senior Hall

The Ghost of Senior Hall is a Civil War tale of a wounded soldier nursed back to health by a student in Senior Hall. Unfortunately the soldier was discovered and executed on campus to discourage any further incidents. The student is said to have committed suicide due to her heartbreak in the old bell tower located near the Senior Hall. Legend says that every Halloween their ghosts return to the hall to mourn their unrequited love.

Honors Convocation

Honors Convocation, held each spring, provides an opportunity to honor excellence in many ways. Traditional awards given include: excellence in teaching and advising, Trustees Awards including the Senior Capstone Award, announcement of Mortar Board members, Century Candle Award, Alpha Lambda Delta Book Award, departmental honors and scholarships, Outstanding Resident Assistant and Resident Director, Student Body President, SGA Outstanding Student Leadership Award, Ten Ideals and others.

Stop Days

Stop Day began on April Fool's Day in 1913 when a group of students played hooky and went swimming at Rollins Spring. President Wood heard of their deed and joined them with a picnic hamper declaring a day of spring play. Faculty extended the stop day idea by declaring a "reading day" on which no classes meet so that students may prepare for final exams.

School song and colors[edit]

Stephens Hymn:

Stephens, our Stephens, hail to thee.
We’ll praise thy name through all eternity.
Thy ten ideals will live so you can see that
Dear, dear old Stephens, we hail to thee.

Treasuring memories ever dear,
Singing your praise for everyone to hear,
Living Ideals for all the world to see
that dear, dear old Stephens, we hail to thee![citation needed]

Stephens' Colors

Maroon and gold.


External links[edit]