The University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) has a unique history. It began as an American Indian boarding school in 1887. The campus land and facilities were deeded by Congress to the state of Minnesota in 1901 on the condition that “Indian pupils shall at all times be admitted to such school free of charge for tuition and on terms of equality with white pupils.” This agreement is honored and is an important part of the Morris identity. The school closed in 1909, and from 1910 to 1963, the campus was home to the West Central School of Agriculture, a boarding high school for rural youth operated under the auspices of the UM Institute of Agriculture. In 1959, as the School of Agriculture was being phased out, the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota established the University of Minnesota, Morris. Conceived at the outset as a four-year liberal arts college, UMM was to serve not only the population of west central Minnesota, but also was to provide an educational opportunity for students throughout the state who sought a rigorous and focused undergraduate education in a small college setting. The guiding principles of selective admission and academic excellence in a residential campus atmosphere have not changed for nearly fifty years. The college has grown from an original enrollment of 238 students in 1960 to approximately 1700 students today.
The campus is located on the prairies of west central Minnesota about 160 miles northwest of the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The city of Morris, with an approximate population of 5200, is the Stevens County seat. Morris is also home to two agricultural science research facilities - one federal and one affiliated with the University's Minneapolis-St. Paul campus. The Morris community offers a variety of retail, manufacturing, agricultural, and service-related businesses. The cultural atmosphere is strengthened through community theater, band, and a thriving local artists community. In addition, UMM offers lectures and performances of national and international stature. The Center for Small Towns, a community outreach program housed at UMM, serves as a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, K-12 schools, non-profit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize the Center's resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society.
UMM is a valued resource and cultural center for the region. Long known for its selective admissions, rigorous curriculum, award-winning faculty, multicultural initiatives, and student activism, Morris is now assuming a leadership role in “going green.” As a green campus, we have advanced sustainable, environmentally friendly initiatives since the original Earth Day. Since 2000, these efforts have grown to levels of national leadership and touch nearly all aspects of campus life - power, food, water, transportation, waste stream infrastructure, academic study, and quality of life.
UMM's mission as a rigorous, undergraduate, residential, liberal arts college is distinctive within the University of Minnesota. The Morris campus shares the University's mission of teaching, research, and outreach. UMM provides undergraduate students with the resources of the University of Minnesota, yet it is a small personal school where students can shape their own education. UMM is recognized as one of the best public liberal arts colleges in the nation because of its instructional excellence, its commitment to research, its numerous extracurricular programs and services, and its strong sense of community. The campus serves undergraduate students from Minnesota, and across the nation, and is a highly valued educational resource and cultural center for residents of West Central Minnesota. UMM attracts and serves a student body, faculty, and staff reflective of our multicultural society. The college empowers the campus community to participate fully and thoughtfully in a diverse society, regionally, nationally, and globally.
The campus community has sought recently to clarify and extend the mission of the University of Minnesota, Morris. The campus assembly will review and vote on a proposed mission statement during the 2008-2009 academic year. A major topic of the recent Fall Faculty Retreat, the proposed mission statement incorporates the ideals and aspirations of UMM. It reads, “The University of Minnesota, Morris, provides an undergraduate education of uncompromising rigor for a diverse student body. The University is a center for education, culture, and research for the region, nation, and world. As a public liberal arts college, UMM is committed to outstanding teaching and dynamic learning. We emphasize faculty and student scholarship, innovative creative activity, and rich diversity. Our residential academic setting fosters intensive collaboration and a deep sense of community. A personalized educational experience promotes in-depth learning and sharpens critical thinking skills. UMM prepares its graduates to be global citizens who are civically engaged, interculturally competent, and effective stewards of their environments.”
The teacher education program at UMM is rooted in the institution’s mission and life as a small, undergraduate, residential public liberal arts college. Our programs are designed to build on the variety, quality, and intellectual rigor of learning experiences that the candidates experience in their general education and specialty courses. In fact, our conceptual framework recognizes the centrality of a liberal arts education to the development of excellent beginning teachers. The teacher education program is designed to foster teaching competence and leadership through general education course work and experiences, a major field of study, professional studies, and clinical experiences.
The University of Minnesota, Morris, is an undergraduate public liberal arts campus of the University of Minnesota. With a student body of approximately 1700 students and a teaching faculty of 130, Morris has served students from throughout Minnesota, 26 other states, and 13 countries. The college is one of five campuses of the University of Minnesota, the state's land grant and doctoral research institution. Morris is renowned for its small, personalized, student-centered community accompanied by all of the advantages of its membership in the University of Minnesota system.
The UMM administration is headed by the chancellor, with major administrative authority shared by three vice chancellors (for academic affairs, for student affairs, and for finance and facilities) and two associate vice chancellors (for enrollment and for external relations). UMM’s curriculum and faculty are organized into four divisions: Education (including Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Wellness and Sports Science), Humanities, Science and Mathematics, and Social Sciences. The Divisions are headed by Division Chairs who are responsible for the implementation of divisional policies and the execution of University and campus policies within the Division.
UMM is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Accreditation. To graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree from UMM, students choose from four-year curricula that lead to undergraduate majors in 30 disciplines as well as seven pre-professional programs and several interdisciplinary majors. Each curriculum includes courses meeting general education requirements and the requirements of their major. Approximately 60 credits of the 120 required for graduation are devoted to the general education program. The three parts of the program, designed to foster a broad international framework, are: First Year Seminar with its focus on human diversity, Skills for Liberal Arts, and Expanding Perspectives. The general education program emphasizes intellectual growth and rigor, the traditional core subjects of broad liberal education, and contemporary themes.
The University of Minnesota, Morris, is a founding member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). COPLAC is an alliance of public liberal arts colleges and universities. Members are dedicated to the education of undergraduates in the liberal arts tradition, to the creation of teaching and learning communities, and to the expansion of access to undergraduate liberal arts education.