Ozarks' History

Welcome to University of the Ozarks! We are a fully accredited, private, undergraduate university that is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Our picturesque 30-acre campus lies at the foot of the scenic Ozark Mountains in Clarksville, Arkansas, approximately 100 miles west of Little Rock and 60 miles east of Fort Smith.

University of the Ozarks has consistently been rated among the top institutions of higher education in the region by publications and surveys such as U.S. News & World Report, National Survey of Student Engagement, and The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For. The University’s comprehensive academic program includes more than 60 majors, minors and pre-professional programs, and small class sizes and faculty-to-student ratio ensure the type of personal attention that allow students to thrive.

University of the Ozarks was founded in 1834 by Cumberland Presbyterians as Cane Hill School at Cane Hill, Ark., located in Northwest Arkansas.  In 1891, Cane Hill College closed operations and its successor, Arkansas Cumberland College, was established in Clarksville, Ark.  In 1920, the name was changed to The College of the Ozarks, and in 1987 the school was renamed to University of the Ozarks.

The University has always had a relationship with the Presbyterian Church. At one time the college was under the ownership of the Oklahoma-Arkansas Synod of the United Presbyterian Church (USA). In 1960, the Board of National Missions of the United Presbyterian Church (USA) assumed ownership and operating responsibility for the college. When the Board of National Missions relinquished its relationship to its mission colleges in 1973, an elected Board of Trustees assumed administrative responsibility and ownership. The Board receives continued spiritual and financial support from the Synod of the Sun, which consists of churches in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Throughout her long and storied history, University of the Ozarks has consistently provided personal, creative, student-oriented innovation in private education. Ozarks has also preserved her history of dedication to Christian values and service and of personal concern by the faculty for the full development of each student.

In the area of higher education, Ozarks was often ahead of her time. Over the years the University was:

  • One of the first co-educational schools west of the Mississippi River.
  • The first college in Arkansas to admit women (1875).
  • The first historically white college in Arkansas to graduate an African-American (1959).
  • The first historically white college in the state to have an African-American compete in intercollegiate sports (1963).
  • The first college in the nation to establish a program for college students with learning disabilities (1971).

In September of 1991, Ozarks celebrated her centennial year at its current location on College Hill in Clarksville. In October of 2009, the University celebrated another impressive milestone, her 175th birthday.