For over 100 years College of the Ozarks, located in Point Lookout, Missouri, has been a monument to patriotism, Christian education, and Hard Work.
Today College of the Ozarks is a liberal arts college offering over 40 different majors to its 1,500 student body with one unique feature – no student on campus pays tuition. Instead, each student works for his or her schooling.
In today’s society where work ethic is hard to find and reliability is scarce, College of the Ozarks is nurturing their philosophy of Hard Work and conservative Christian values in their young student body.
The school was founded in 1906 by James Forsyth, a Presbyterian missionary.
Reverend Forsyth’s inspiration for starting the school came from a day out hunting. While hunting, the Reverend came across a young boy named Benjy Cummings.
Benjy was hunting for squirrels to feed his family when the Reverend struck up a conversation with the boy about school. Benjy had finished the fourth grade and wanted to continue his schooling, but his family could no longer afford to send him.
Reverend Forsyth came to the see the need for education and saw the struggle of the youth in this area to afford a good education.
He was able to gain a charter from the state of Missouri to provide a Christian education to worthy students in need of help attaining education.
Initially, the college was established as a high school, School of the Ozarks, and remained this way until 1956 when the school added a two-year junior college program to supplement the growing need of students in the area to gain a college education.
Then in 1964 the Board of Trustees decided to advance to a 4-year liberal arts college.
Today, the school has approximately 80 different workstations ranging from a diary where the students milk cows and process milk, to students serving guest in the Keeter Center and the Dobyns Dining Room.
Students work approximately 280 hours each semester to pay for the tuition and are able to work during the summer to pay for room and board.
The College offers many different tourist attractions and the college campus in itself is a perfect place to spend an afternoon strolling around and taking pictures.
While the College of the Ozarks has morphed from a struggling high school, to a prosperous liberal arts college its mission remains the same, “to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.”
Recently, the college has re-established a high school on the College of the Ozark campus, aptly named School of the Ozarks.
With the opening of the new School of the Ozarks, College of the Ozarks is coming full circle. And, while Reverend James Forsyth may not have first envisioned his struggling high school becoming the acclaimed liberal arts school College of the Ozarks now is, there is no doubt he would be proud.
All information about College of the Ozark’s history is courtesy of the College of the Ozarks website, cofo.edu.
The story of Reverend James Forsyth and Benjy Cummings is courtesy of Cathy Cooper for the White River Valley Historical Quarterly, in an article titled “The school of the Ozarks: Beginnings,” published in Vol. 8, Number 1, 1982.
Images are provided courtesy of the College of the Ozarks Public Relations Office.
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