The University of Minnesota, Morris makes its home on a 125-year-old campus. The first buildings housed an American Indian boarding school, first administered by the Sisters of Mercy order of the Catholic Church and later by the United States Government. The school closed in 1909, and the campus was transferred to the State of Minnesota with the stipulation that American Indian students “shall at all times be admitted to such school free of charge for tuition,” a policy still proudly honored.
In 1910, the University of Minnesota established the West Central School of Agriculture (WCSA) on the Morris campus, which educated area high school students in a boarding school environment until 1963. It is this time period that garnered the campus its placement on the National Register of Historic Places as the West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station Historic District. Handsome Prairie School structures, such as Behmler Hall and the Education building, built during the WCSA years and designed by well-known state architect Clarence H. Johnston, Sr., continue to serve the campus well.
In the late 1950s, when the University of Minnesota announced that agricultural schools would be phased out, a grassroots citizens movement convinced the Minnesota Legislature that creating a distinct public liberal arts college within the University of Minnesota system on the Morris campus would be a good investment for the state. In September 1960, the University of Minnesota, Morris opened its doors and began fulfilling its institutional vision to be an affordable, undergraduate, intentionally small, residential, public liberal arts college.
With an enrollment of more than 1,800 students and more than 121 teaching faculty, the campus attracts students from throughout Minnesota, 32 other states, and 16 foreign countries. The “Morris experience” emphasizes faculty/student collaborative research, study abroad opportunities, and service learning.
Morris is a national leader in green initiatives—wind energy, biomass energy, Pride of the Prairie local, sustainable food projects. Its goal is to be a carbon neutral campus.
In 2010, the University of Minnesota, Morris celebrated its 50-year anniversary and marked the 100-year anniversary of the opening of the West Central School of Agriculture.
Read more campus history in Re-collections.
Photo above: The Multi-Ethnic Resource Center is the only remaining building on campus from the American Indian boarding school period.