College of the Ozarks

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College of the Ozarks
MottoHard Work U
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church USA
Endowment$505 million (2018)[2]
PresidentJerry C. Davis[3]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

36°37′05″N 93°14′26″W / 36.6181°N 93.2405°W / 36.6181; -93.2405Coordinates: 36°37′05″N 93°14′26″W / 36.6181°N 93.2405°W / 36.6181; -93.2405
CampusRural, 1,000-acre (1.6 sq mi; 404.7 ha)
NicknameBobcats and Lady Cats

College of the Ozarks is a Christian liberal-arts college in Point Lookout, Missouri. The college has an enrollment of 1,426, a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 16:1, over 30 academic majors in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs.[5] It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The college charges no tuition for full-time students due to its student work program and donations. The program requires students to work 15 hours a week at an on-campus work station and two 40-hour work weeks during breaks. A summer work program is available to cover room and board costs.[6] The college refers to itself as "Hard Work U."[7] and places emphasis on "character" education.


Aerial photo of College of the Ozarks with Lake Taneycomo, Branson, and Table Rock Lake beyond


The school was first proposed in 1901 as a high school by James Forsythe, pastor of Forsyth, Missouri Presbyterian Church. Forsythe was from the St. Louis, Missouri area.

Forsythe was said to have been inspired to make the proposal after encountering a boy on a squirrel hunt who told him that his parents couldn't afford to send him to the closest high school 40 miles (60 km) away in Springfield, Missouri.[8]

The School of the Ozarks opened on September 11, 1907, in a 75-by-50-foot (23-by-15-meter) building atop Mount Huggins (named for brothers Louis and William Huggins from St. Joseph, Missouri who were among the founders of Nabisco[9] and had donated money for the school). In its first term it had enrollment of 180 with 36 boarders.[10]

From the start, the school adopted its practice of having its students work instead of paying tuition.

On January 12, 1915, the original building burned. School was temporarily held in Forsyth, with five students graduating in 1915.[8]

Point Lookout[edit]

The school then relocated farther up the White River at Point Lookout, Missouri on a 16-acre (6.47 ha) campus. The campus has changed quite a bit since this era, but has remained at the Point Lookout location ever since.[11] The central building of the campus was the Maine Hunting and Fishing Club building, which had been transported to the site by sportsmen from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair where it had been the State of Maine exhibit. It was renamed the Dobyns Building in honor of W. R. Dobyns, president of the trustees at the time. The building burned on February 1, 1930.[12][13]

In the 1920s what would become the Ralph Foster Museum depicting Ozark heritage had its start in the basement of the boys dormitory: Abernathy Hall.

In 1934 the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen opened to offer work for students. It is now one of 90 work stations. More than 100 fruitcakes are now baked daily.[14]

1950s expansion[edit]

In the 1950s under Robert M. Good and M. Graham Clark the school dramatically changed.

The campus expanded to 1,400 acres (567 ha), the school's Gothic chapel was built on the location of the original Dobyns Building and a hospital was added.

In 1956, with high schools becoming increasingly available in the area, the school became a junior college.

The Museum of the Ozarks took over the entire Abernathy Building and was renamed the Good Museum for president Good. It was later renamed for country music pioneer Ralph D. Foster, who donated money and exhibits for it. The museum expanded in 1969, 1977 and 1991.[15] Among the exhibits is an original George Barris 1921 modified Oldsmobile Beverly Hillbillies truck donated by series creator Paul Henning who was inspired to do the show after a Boy Scout camping trip in the Ozarks. The museum also contains a large firearm display, including a rifle belonging to Pancho Villa.[16]

1960s to present[edit]

In 1965 it became an accredited four-year college.[17]

In 1973 The Wall Street Journal described School of the Ozarks as "Hard Work U."[citation needed] The name has stuck as the school motto and the school has trademarked it.[18]

In 1990 it was renamed the College of the Ozarks.[17]

In the 2003–2004 semesters a professor revealed that one of the college's deans, Larry Cockrum, had received his Ph.D. from Crescent City Christian College, a fraudulent college ("diploma mill") run out of a coach's basement.[19] The professor who brought this information to light was suspended for the 2004 semester, and his contract was not to be renewed for the fall semester.[20] The college's president, Jerry C. Davis, defended the dean with the fraudulent degree, while terminating the professor.[21] Cockrum has been appointed to a new position as president of The University of the Cumberlands.[22]

In 2018, two students were kidnapped and forced to perform sexual acts on one another and their captor. The students were sleeping in a car just a quarter-mile away from the front gates to the college. The students had missed the curfew by less than ten minutes and were locked out of the college. Sue Head, the college's current Vice President for Cultural Affairs and Dean of Character Education, stated to the press that students are able to call campus security past curfew and will be let back into campus.[23] Alumni have stated that students sleeping in their car or away from campus was routine when they attended the college.[24] Alumni also stated that they feared being expelled for missing curfew.[24]

The current president, Jerry C. Davis, has instituted five goals for the college that now stand as their pillars for students to emulate:[25]

  • Academic
  • Vocational
  • Christian
  • Patriotic
  • Cultural


Since 1906, there have been 14 presidents, 2 acting presidents and one chancellor.[26]

  • 1906 – A. Y. Beatie
  • 1907 – George Gordon Robertson
  • 1907–10 – W. I. Utterback
  • 1910 – F. O. Hellier
  • 1911–13 – George K. Knepper
  • 1913–15 – William L. Porter
  • 1915–16 – John E. Crockett
  • 1916–20 – George L. Washburn
  • 1920–21 – Thomas M. Barbee
  • 1921–52 – R. M. Good
  • 1952–75 – M. Graham Clark
  • 1975–81 – Howell W. Keeter, Chancellor
  • 1981–82 – James I. Spainhower
  • 1982–83 – Howell W. Keeter, Interim
  • 1983–87 – Stephen G. Jennings
  • 1987–88 – William D. Todd, Interim
  • 1988––present – Jerry C. Davis


The College of the Ozarks teams are known as the Bobcats. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes as an independent. Before July 2015, the college competed in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC). But in July 2015, the MCAC was dissolved. The College is now currently part of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).

Men's Sports:

  • Cross-Country
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Track and Field
  • Golf
  • Cheerleading

Women's Sports:

  • Cross-Country
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Track and Field
  • Golf
  • Cheerleading

The 2005-06 men's basketball team won the NAIA Division II national championship, while the Lady Cats were the runner up. The men's team was second in the basketball tournament in 2000 and 2009.[27] From 2000-2017, Keeter Gymnasium was host to the NAIA Division II Basketball Championship games. In 2014, Ozarks made headlines by defeating second ranked College of Idaho in the national tournament.[28]

In the wake of the 2016–2017 national anthem protests at athletic events in the United States, the college announced that they would refuse to play any team whose players took a knee in the same manner as the protests.[29] In response, the NAIA chose to move its Division II men's basketball champion game away from College of the Ozarks; the championship game had been held there since 2000.[30] In September 2018, the president of the college released a statement explaining that the school would no longer use uniforms made by Nike: “If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them."[31]


  • Williams Memorial Chapel - This Neo-Gothic chapel was built in 1956 and holds consistent public Sunday services at 11 a.m.
  • The Keeter Center - The 95,000 square foot facility holds a restaurant, lodging, and other rooms/halls for events.
  • The Ralph Foster Museum - This Ozarks' history museum is named after the late Ralph D. Foster, who was a prominent radio voice and philanthropist in the area.
  • Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen - The college's kitchen produces many student-made products here, including their well-known apple butter.
  • Edwards Mill - This student-run mill receives power from a twelve-foot water wheel and produces meal, flour, and other products.
  • Lake Honor - This small lake found in the middle of campus houses the college's swans and their cygnets.
  • The Hoge Greenhouse - More than 7,000 plants including orchids, houseplants, and more can be found and purchased inside the greenhouse.
  • The Gaetz Tractor Museum - This museum holds many antique farm tools, tractors, and pieces of equipment dating back to the early 1900s.
  • Lyons Memorial Library
  • McKibben Cemetery
  • Memorial Dorm
  • Ashcroft Dorm
  • McDonald Dorm
  • Mann Dorm
  • Foster Dorm
  • Mabee Dorm
  • Youngman Dorm
  • Kelce Dorm
  • Barrett Dorm
  • Howell W. Keeter Gymnasium
  • Tillman Center
  • 91.7 FM KCOZ Radio Station


Criticism and Controversy[edit]

The College of the Ozarks has been subject to numerous incidents of controversy, in particular, the school's discriminatory policies against LGBT people,[33] strict Biblical inspired moral code for students,[34] the lack of ethnic and racial diversity,[35] and its boycott on Nike products following an ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick.[36]

The college has been subject of racial controversies regarding its significantly low number of African Americans in its student body.[37] An article published by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education in 1993 titled "Blacks Still Not Wanted at Many Christian Colleges" presents a list of every college endorsed by the Coalition for Christian Colleges which were organized according to the proportion of black students to white students, of which the College of the Ozarks ranked second to last.[35] According to the journal, in 1993, black students represented 0.1% of the entire student body of 1541 students. The only Christian college to receive a lower rank was Dordt College in Iowa, which was completely white. Following an ad campaign by Nike featuring former NFL quarterback and political activist Colin Kaepernick, the College of the Ozarks officially announced that it would no longer use Nike sportswear for its athletic teams or sell Nike products in the college store.[36] Anne Branigin of The Root sharply criticized the college's decision, noting the apparent racial overtones of the controversy. In addition, Branigin also criticized the schools work-education model referring to it as "[sounding] a bit like indentured servitude", the lack of ethnic diversity in the student body (approximately 93% of students are white), and the institutions "Orwellian" patriotism guidelines.[38]

In September 2017, The Princeton Review published the results of a survey of 137,000 students from 382 different universities and colleges, which concluded that the College of the Ozarks as being the most hostile and unfriendly campus towards LGBT peoples and non-binary people,[39][40] in response to the survey Valorie Coleman, public relations director, told the Kansas City Star that "she does not consider the school hostile to LGBT people, but acknowledged its strict rules against what it called sexual immorality."[41] Homosexual behavior, along with premarital, extramarital, and the consumption of alcohol and drugs is strictly prohibited by the university's student handbook. Former LGBT students of the college recounted that they were pressured to undergo Conversion therapy, a widely condemned procedure based in pseudo science that claims to be able to alter individuals from homosexuals to heterosexuals.[42]

In 2017 the College of the Ozarks controversially altered its course requirements for incoming freshmen requiring to enroll in a course titled, "Patriotic Education and Fitness", which combines military style physical education with military science in order to encourage patriotism and respect for the military.[43]

In November 2018, two students of the College of the Ozarks were abducted and sexually assaulted after failing to get to the campus approximately ten minutes before mandatory curfew.[44] Though, public relations director Valorie Coleman stated that students are able to call campus security to let them into their residences, former students have been quoted as describing instances where students were expelled following a curfew infraction between the years of 2010 and 2013. Further, according to alumni, it is common for students to be unwilling to contact campus security out of fear of being punished.[45]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About C of O". College of the Ozarks. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ President
  4. ^ a b [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ "College of the Ozarks - Best Colleges - Education - US News and World Report". 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  7. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  8. ^ a b The School of the Ozarks: Beginnings - White River Historical Quarterly - Volume 8, Number 1, Fall 1982
  9. ^ Sampson, Francis Asbury (2008-01-23). Missouri historical review - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  10. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-04-10. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  11. ^ Davis, Jerry C. (2007). Miracle in the Ozarks : the inspiring story of faith, hope, and Hard Work U. College of the Ozarks. OCLC 1036707953.
  12. ^ "The Keeter Center". 1930-02-01. Archived from the original on 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  13. ^ 160 acres (65 ha) & An Orchard - State of the Ozarks - August 28, 2009
  14. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  15. ^ "Ralph Foster Museum - College of the Ozarks". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  16. ^ "Ralph Foster Museum - Beverly Hillbillies Car, Point Lookout, Missouri". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  17. ^ a b "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". 1971-07-30. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  18. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  19. ^ Archived 2011-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^
  21. ^,666267
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-01. Retrieved 2015-01-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ [4]
  24. ^ a b [5]
  25. ^ "No-Tuition College | Christian Liberal Arts College | C of O". Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  26. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  27. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  28. ^ "Santiago Leads Bobcats in Upset of No. 2 Seed College of Idaho". Victory Sports Network. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Kerkhoff, Blair (September 6, 2018). "The Nike swoosh is out at Missouri's College of the Ozarks because of Kaepernick ad". Kansas City Star.
  32. ^ "College of the Ozarks Visit". December 2018. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  33. ^ . The News Leader Retrieved 17 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^ Retrieved 17 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ a b "Blacks Still Not Wanted at Many Christian Colleges". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (17): 79–82. undefined NaN. doi:10.2307/2963237. JSTOR 2963237. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  36. ^ a b "College of the Ozarks cuts ties with Nike over controversial Kaepernick ad". FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports. 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  37. ^ "Black Students at America's Most Conservative Colleges and Universities". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (51): 42. 2006. ISSN 1077-3711. JSTOR 25073429.
  38. ^ Branigin, Anne. "College of Caucasity: A Peek into the Missouri School That Dropped Nike Over its Colin Kaepernick Ad". The Root. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  39. ^ "LGBTQ-Unfriendly". Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  40. ^ Riley, Claudette (18 August 2019). "Ozarks home to nation's most conservative, sober, LGBTQ-unfriendly college". Springfield News Leader. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  41. ^ Londberg, Max (26 August 2017). "Expelled for being LGBT? Missouri college named the worst for gay and trans students". The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on 2017-08-27. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  42. ^ Levin, Koby (3 March 2018). "Students who are openly gay and Christian challenge OCC, other religious colleges". Joplin Globe. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  43. ^ Reilly, Katie (25 October 2017). [ "A Christian College Just Rolled Out a Mandatory Military Patriotism Class"] Check |url= value (help). Time Magazine. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  44. ^ "College of the Ozarks Students Kidnapped, Sexually Assaulted Near Campus, Officials Say". KOLR - 2018-11-11. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  45. ^ Karnes, Sara (15 November 2018). "College of the Ozarks alumni react to alleged sexual assault of students". Branson Lakes News. Retrieved 19 September 2019.

External links[edit]