History - Missouri Baptist University
through the years

Our History

When you stroll through our campus, it’s hard to believe that a little more than 50 years ago it was a small campus extension with a handful of students. Now, MBU is a flourishing Christian-based university with a growing enrollment, an expanding campus and a highly regarded faculty.

1957: Hannibal-LaGrange College opens an extension at Tower Grove Baptist Church in midtown St. Louis for 68 students taking courses for pastors and laymen

1960: The influence of students, Baptist leaders, pastors and laymen leads the Missouri Baptist Convention to approve the establishment of a Baptist college in St. Louis

1964: The first meeting of the Board of Trustees of Missouri Baptist College

1967: The groundbreaking of the original 81-acre site

1968: Almost 200 students begin classes

1973: The first class of 29 students graduates with Bachelor of Arts degrees

1978: The school achieves its initial accreditation from the North Central Association under the leadership of the college’s third president, Dr. Robert Sutherland

1991 – 1995: Dr. Thomas S. Field updates buildings and focuses on securing stable resources for the college

1995: Missouri Baptist University appoints Dr. R. Alton Lacey as University president, ushering in a chapter of the University marked by expansive growth.

The same year, the college doubled its housing capacity with the opening of North Hall.

1999: Spirit of Excellence Campaign raises $10 million for the Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center

2000: The University was approved to offer its first masters-level program, the Master of Science in Education. Today, the University offers seven graduate degree programs.

2002: Groundbreaking of Dale Williams Fine Arts Center, which prompts Dr. Lacey to famously say, “This building will stand as a reminder of those who came before, who laid the foundation of this whole enterprise, and it will point to the future with great hope and faith.”

Then Missouri Baptist College becomes Missouri Baptist University, providing a more fitting description of the institution’s increasingly important role in higher education.

2002: MBU opened its flagship building, the Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center. Every year, more than 100,000 visitors attend various events and performances inside the 53,000-square-foot facility.

2008: MBU began offering its first online degree program, The Master of Science in Education. Today, the University has 9 online programs and hundreds of classes.

2009: The University launched its first terminal degree program, the Doctor of Education.

2011: The University’s next chapter of residential living was unveiled with Spartan Village. Situated on the northern end of campus, the first phase of Spartan Village included the opening of The Carl and Deloris Petty Sports and Recreation Complex and modern apartment-style living.

2011: Missouri Baptist University opens the Carl and Deloris Petty Sports and Recreation Complex, a state-of-the-art, 47,000-square-foot facility aimed at aiding learning and health and wellness.

2013: Phase II of Spartan Village was completed with the construction of a 4,500-square-foot bookstore, an expanded and revamped dining hall and a community-focused resident living facility for more than 100 students.

2013: More than 5,200 students—the most ever—were enrolled at MBU.

2014: MBU celebrates its 50th anniversary and Dr. Lacey’s 20th year as University president. MBU Football plays its inaugural season, and the University broke ground for a football complex and practice field.

2015: MBU dedicates the Don and Mary Pillsbury Wainwright Performance Hall, located in the Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center. New academic programs were launched including an exclusively online corporate security master’s degree and an undergraduate commercial voice degree.

MBU also begins offering an Ed.D. in higher education in fall 2015 as well as the new MBU Adult and Online division, which offers four undergraduate degree tracks entirely online at an affordable price for the busy working adult.

2016: MBU completes the final phase of Spartan Village with the completion of Spartan South, dorm-style buildings with a capacity of 80 students.

MBU began its first year of a new honors program, MBU Honors.

2017: President Lacey announces retirement, effective at the completion of the 2017-2018 school year, after 24 years of service to the University.

MBU receives initial approval from the Missouri Board of Nursing to begin offering a nursing degree in January 2018.