College of the Ozarks

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College of the Ozarks
Motto Hard Work U
Type Private liberal arts college
Established 1906[1]
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment $505 million (2018)[2]
President Jerry C. Davis[3]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 1,433[4]
Undergraduates 1,433[4]
Address 100 Opportunity Avenue Point Lookout, MO 65726
Tel. 1-800-222-0525

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
Campus Rural, 1,000-acre (1.6 sq mi; 404.7 ha)
Athletics NAIAMCAC
Nickname Bobcats and Lady Cats

College of the Ozarks is a Christian liberal-arts college, with its campus at Point Lookout near Branson and Hollister, Missouri, United States. It is 40 miles (60 km) south of Springfield on a 1,000-acre (1.6 sq mi; 404.7 ha) campus, overlooking Lake Taneycomo. The college has an enrollment of 1,433, a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 16:1, over 30 academic majors, and degrees in Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.[4] 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.[5] The college refers to itself as "Hard Work U."[6] and places emphasis in "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 the 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.[7]

The School of the Ozarks opened on September 12, 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[8] and had donated money for the school). In its first term it had enrollment of 180 with 36 boarders.[9]

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.[7]

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 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 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.[10][11]

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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

1960s to present[edit]

In 1965 it became a four-year college.[15]

In 1973 The Wall Street Journal described School of the Ozarks as "Hard Work U."[citation needed] The name has stuck as school motto and the school has trademarked it.[16]

In 1990 it was renamed the College of the Ozarks.[15]

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.[17] 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.[18] The college's president, Jerry C. Davis, defended the dean with the fraudulent degree, while terminating the professor.[19] Cockrum has been appointed to a new position as president of The University of the Cumberlands.[20]


Since 1906, there have been 14 presidents, 2 acting presidents and one chancellor.[21]

  • 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). Men's sports include baseball, basketball and cross-country; while women's sports include basketball, volleyball and cross-country.

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.[22] From 2000-2017, Keeter Gymnasium was been 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.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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."[26]


  • Williams Memorial Chapel
  • The Keeter Center
  • The Ralph Foster Museum
  • Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen
  • Edwards Mill
  • McKibben Hall
  • Lake Honor
  • Green House
  • The Dairy and Tractor Museum
  • Lyons Memorial Library
  • McKibben Cemetery
  • Memorial Dorm
  • Ashcroft Dorm
  • McDonald Dorm
  • Foster Dorm
  • Mabee Dorm
  • Youngman Dorm
  • Kelce Dorm
  • Howell W. Keeter Gymnasium
  • Garrison Center
  • 91.7 FM KCOZ Radio Station

Special recognition[edit]

  • Reported in the U.S. News & World Report, "Best College" section yearly since 1989; ranked 29 among Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor's (Midwest) for 2007[27]
  • Templeton Honor Roll, "Character Building College"
  • Money Magazine's, "Best Buy College Guide"
  • Barron's, "300 Best Buys in Higher Education"
  • Princeton Review, "The Best 331 Colleges"[28]
  • Princeton Review, "LGBTQ Unfriendly"[29]

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 c Enrollment
  5. ^ "College of the Ozarks - Best Colleges - Education - US News and World Report". 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  6. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  7. ^ a b The School of the Ozarks: Beginnings - White River Historical Quarterly - Volume 8, Number 1, Fall 1982
  8. ^ Missouri historical review - Google Books. 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  9. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-04-10. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  10. ^ "The Keeter Center". 1930-02-01. Archived from the original on 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  11. ^ 160 acres (65 ha) & An Orchard - State of the Ozarks - August 28, 2009
  12. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  13. ^ "Ralph Foster Museum - College of the Ozarks". Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  14. ^ "Ralph Foster Museum - Beverly Hillbillies Car, Point Lookout, Missouri". Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  15. ^ a b "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". 1971-07-30. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  16. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  17. ^ Archived 2011-05-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^
  19. ^,666267
  20. ^
  21. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  22. ^ "College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  23. ^ "Santiago Leads Bobcats in Upset of No. 2 Seed College of Idaho". Victory Sports Network. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Kerkhoff, Blair (September 6, 2018). "The Nike swoosh is out at Missouri's College of the Ozarks because of Kaepernick ad". Kansas City Star. 
  27. ^ America's Best Colleges 2008: Baccalaureate Colleges (Midwest): Top Schools
  28. ^ [2] The Princeton Review
  29. ^ [3] The Princeton Review

External links[edit]