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When it chartered the University of Mississippi on February 24, 1844, the Mississippi Legislature laid the foundation for public higher education in the state. The university opened its doors to 80 students four years later and for 23 years was Mississippi's only public institution of higher learning. For 110 years, it was the state's only comprehensive university.

UM established the fourth state-supported law school in the nation (1854) and was one of the first in the nation to offer engineering education (1854). It was one of the first in the South to admit women (1882) and the first to hire a female faculty member (1885).

Ole Miss also established the state's first College of Liberal Arts; schools of Law, Engineering, Education and Nursing; accredited School of Business Administration; Graduate School; and accredited bachelor's and master's accountancy programs. It has the only schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Health Related Professions in Mississippi.

From its first class of 80 students, Ole Miss has grown to a doctoral degree-granting university with 15 academic divisions and more than 21,500 students. Located on its main campus in Oxford are the College of Liberal Arts; the schools of Accountancy, Applied Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Journalism and New Media, Pharmacy, and Law; and the Graduate School. The Medical Center in Jackson trains professionals in its schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Related Professions, Dentistry and Graduate Studies. Ole Miss continues to expand academic courses and degree offerings on its regional campuses in Southaven, Tupelo, Grenada and Booneville.

In all, more than 100 programs of study offer superior academic experiences that provide each graduate with the background necessary for a lifetime of scholastic, social and professional growth. Strengthening and expanding the academic experience are the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies and Lott Leadership Institute.

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