Lincoln University [Missouri] (1866- )

Young Hall, Lincoln University of Missouri
Young Hall, Lincoln University of Missouri
Courtesy TheCatalyst31 (CC0)

Lincoln University is a public university located in Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. It is a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and was founded in 1866 by members of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantry and as such is the only black college founded by African American members of the U.S. Army.  At the end of the Civil War, members of the 62nd Colored Infantry (made up mostly of Missourians) decided to found a school when they returned to Jefferson City. They stipulated that the institution be created for the explicit benefit of African Americans, that it be located in Missouri, and that it combine classical and vocational education. The soldiers contributed the first funds that allowed the institution to open on January 14, 1866.

Richard Baxter, who was a first lieutenant in the 62nd Colored Infantry, became the first president when the Lincoln Institute. The Institute began receiving state aid in 1870, and in 1879 formally became a state institution, when it deeded its property to Missouri. Under the Morrill Act of 1890, it became a land-grant institution and industrial and agricultural classes were added.

In 1877, Lincoln began to offer college coursework. In 1921, its name was changed by the Missouri Legislature to Lincoln University. Its four-year college of arts and sciences was accredited in 1934 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The graduate division was added in 1940. In 1954, with the passage of Brown v. Board of Education, Lincoln opened its doors to all who met its admission criteria, regardless of race.

Lincoln currently has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students, 90 percent of whom are undergraduates. It offers bachelors, associates, and masters degrees, as well as post-master’s certification. The most commonly chosen majors for undergraduates are in business, nursing, and education. Computer science and engineering and security and law enforcement are also popular fields of study. Athletes at Lincoln participate in NCAA Division II Independents, the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and the Heartland Conference.