2018-2019 College Catalog 
    Jun 17, 2024  
2018-2019 College Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


College of the Ozarks began as a dream. In 1905, James Forsythe, a Presbyterian missionary, expressed this dream to the Missouri Synod of the Presbyterian Church when he wrote:

  Dear Sirs:  
  Once again I am petitioning the Synod for help to found a school here in the Ozarks. As I have pointed out previously, the need is present and it should be the mission of the church to undertake the task of providing the boys and girls of the Ozarks with an education. The primary object of such a school should be to offer the best intellectual training under the best possible moral and Christian auspices. It should be our hope to build a great school not only through the advantages gained by the location of the school in such a healthful climate, in the midst of such inspiring scenery and with such opportunities as are present here for outdoor-recreation, but most of all through advantages which could be offered to those of both sexes who are deserving, but yet financially unable to secure an education above the free school. The purpose should be to make the school a self-sustaining “family” by requiring all students to spend a portion of their time in the various duties assigned to them in the classroom building or on the campus and farm, such as kitchen, dining room and laundry work, or in securing fuel and provisions, improving property, etc.  

Forsythe’s dream came true in 1906 when the Synod established The School of the Ozarks and was granted a charter by the State of Missouri for the purpose of “providing Christian education for youth of both sexes especially those found worthy but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.” By the end of the first term, the enrollment at The School was 180 with 36 boarders.

Originally, the purpose of The School was to provide an opportunity for a pre-collegiate Christ-centered education for young people of the Ozarks plateau. This mission was pursued without significant change until 1956. By this time, improved transportation, better communications, and the increasing number of consolidated school districts had made a high school education readily accessible to most young people in the Ozarks area. Consequently, in 1956, The School of the Ozarks added two years of junior college to the four-year high school program. The two-year program was initially accredited by the University of Missouri and in 1961 was accredited by the North Central Association. This format continued until 1964 when the Board of Trustees and the faculty voted to expand the two-year program into a four-year liberal arts program.

The four-year college program of The School of the Ozarks, which began classes for juniors in September 1965, was given preliminary accreditation by the North Central Association that same year. Preliminary accreditation was continued in 1969. In August 1971, the North Central Association notified the College’s president, Dr. M. Graham Clark, that:

  It is a pleasure to inform you officially that the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, at its meeting on July 30, 1971,voted to grant full accreditation to The School of the Ozarks as a bachelor’s degree-granting institution. The action of the Association was based on the visiting team’s report and on subsequent discussions held by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.  

College of the Ozarks has continued its accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and maintained its reputation for excellence. In 1994, the Missouri Department of Education awarded C of O a “#1” ranking-the only such ranking ever given by the Department-in recognition of the College’s commitment to Mission.

The transition from high school to junior college to four-year liberal arts college has brought about many changes. The years after 1967, when the last secondary school class and the first college class graduated, were a time of great expansion. Approximately ten new areas of study (majors) were developed, the faculty doubled, and the geographical range of the students broadened. Now that the College has passed its 100th anniversary, the goal is to build even greater quality into existing programs in order to fulfill James Forsythe’s dream of offering “the best intellectual training under the best possible moral and Christian auspices.”

In 1990, the Board of Trustees approved changing the operating name of The School of the Ozarks to College of the Ozarks. Since 1989, the College has been named one of the top liberal arts colleges in the Midwest and one of the “Best Buys” in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine each year. C of O has also been named to the Templeton Honor Roll for Character Building Colleges and to the Templeton Honor Roll for Excellence in Free Enterprise Teaching. In addition, C of O has been listed as a “Best Buy” by Barron’s Guide, and Money Magazine and has been recognized by numerous other national publications.

In 2012, the College reopened School of the Ozarks, a laboratory high school grades 9-12. Subsequently, the College opened grades K-6 in August 2014 and added grades 7-8 in August of 2015, completing the K-college model.

In October 2016, the College’s Board of Trustees affirmed its historic Christian faith commitment by entering into a covenant relationship with the Presbytery of Mid-America, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, so that they together can bring glory to God by carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

Keeter Center for Character Education

Founded in 1997, The Keeter Center for Character Education at College of the Ozarks was created to provide programs and activities to enhance the development of character and good citizenship. In so doing, the Center reflects the principle upon which the College was established: that character in young people is best developed from an education of the head, the heart, and the hands.

The Center serves as the programmatic arm of The Keeter Center facility on campus. Both students and community members benefit from the wide variety of programs. The Gittinger Community Convocation Series has brought noted speakers to campus including Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, Franklin Graham, Benjamin Netanyahu, Sarah Palin, Laura Bush, Dave Ramsey, Ben Carson, Charles Krauthammer, and Tim Tebow.

The Center hosts a forum each year with a theme that rotates among the topics of character, citizenship, and the work ethic. In addition to a group of the College’s students and those of visiting colleges and universities, cadets and staff from each of the U.S. Military Academies benefit from small group discussions and a question and answer session with each distinguished speaker. Forum speakers have included Tommy Franks, Bob Dole, J. C. Watts, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush, Louis Zamperini, Harris Faulkner, and KT McFarland.

The Center developed and oversees a leadership character education initiative called First PLACE! (Partners in Leadership & Character Education). First PLACE! is a partnership among the homes, school, and communities of Stone and Taney Counties and focuses on intentionally teaching and modeling leadership and good character. Over 500 First PLACE! community partners support the initiative, which is being used as a model around the region. The Center hosts a leadership and character education conference each year.

The S. Truett Cathy Poverty Summit provides an opportunity for the College and the greater community to learn about the issue of poverty and gain valuable tools for helping people in poverty learn how to transition effectively into the middle class.

School of the Ozarks
A Laboratory School of the College of the Ozarks

As a department of the College, School of the Ozarks plays an important role in the mission of the College of the Ozarks. It exists to encourage excellence and creativity with a distinctly Christian worldview in a K-12 setting. As a member of the International Association of Laboratory Schools, the School seeks to be a leader and an example of what is best for American education. Traditionally, a laboratory school’s commitment has been to assist in preparing teachers while delivering quality instructional programs for students in the classroom. These schools are affiliated with a college or university for specific purposes that go beyond the scope of traditional public and private institutions. Over the years, the laboratory schools have changed to reflect the diverse needs of the teaching professional and have often led the way in improving the science and art of teaching. Operating under the Keeter Center for Character Education, the School provides numerous opportunities for faculty and students from various departments to interface with the School on a regular basis.