11 things you might not know about MU

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | 7:16 p.m. CST; updated 7:59 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday marks MU's 175th birthday, and celebrations have been taking place on campus and virtually (through the Twitter hashtag #Mizzou175). 

In honor of the festivities, we set out to find some events and facts from MU's 175 years that may not be known widely known.


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You've likely heard that the MU Columns on the Quadrangle are remnants of the former Academic Hall that burned down in 1892 and that the School of Journalism was the first in the nation. And if you don't know Truman the Tiger is the mascot, you must not have been in town for more than a couple of days. 

But here are 11 things you might not know about MU:

1. MU is a registered botanical garden. The campus has more than 42,000 registered plants and trees, all labeled with their botanical names. Horticulture students use the garden for research and participate in maintenance and planting.

2. You might have heard that MU has the nation’s most powerful university research reactor. MU is also the largest U.S. supplier to pharmaceutical firms of radioisotopes for diagnosing and treating cancer.

3. MU is proud to be home to the world’s first School of Journalism. But did you know that it is also home to the nation’s first College of Education?

4. Why does a statue of Thomas Jefferson sit on MU's quad, along with his tombstone? You can thank Jefferson next time you walk by because MU was the first state university that was part of his Louisiana Purchase territory.

5. MU has an official Meat Judging Team. Seriously, it goes to international competitions and judges different cuts of beef, lamb and pork. If you thought the pork family consisted of chop and tenderloin, think again.

6. The producers for the movie "Animal House" wanted to film it at MU. However, the president read the script and quickly vetoed that idea. 

7. The first commencement ceremony at MU happened in 1843. It had only two graduates. It took three hours.

8. The name Mizzou came from the slurred together initials of the school's original name, Missouri State University. When said quickly the initials, MSU, can sound like Mizzou.

9. The Rock “M” in the end zone of Faurot Field was built in 1927 by students using rocks from the original construction of Memorial Stadium. In 1957, the night before the Nebraska game, a group of fans tried to change the M to an N, but the original form was restored before kickoff.

10. George C. Scott studied at the School of Journalism. He then pulled a Brad Pitt — or maybe Brad Pitt pulled a George C. Scott? — and left his senior year to pursue an acting career. He went on to play Capt. Edward Smith in "Titanic," Gen. George Patton in "Patton" and Gen. “Buck” Turgidson in "Dr. Strangelove."

11. Switzler Hall, the oldest building on campus, has a bell that used to toll at the beginning and ending of each class period. Now, the bell rings only to honor the death of someone in the MU family, on Tap Day, and to commemorate special occasions.

More facts about MU are collected on the university's website

Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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