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Harris-Stowe State College's (HSSC) founding in 1890 is celebrated on this date. It is one of over 100 historical Black Colleges and Universities in America (HBCU).
HSSC traces its origin before the American Civil War when it was created by the St. Louis Public Schools system as a normal school and thus became the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River and the twelfth institution in the United States. The earliest predecessor of Harris-Stowe State College was a normal school established for white students only by the Public School System of the City of St. Louis.
A second predecessor institution was Stowe Teachers College which began in 1890 as a normal school for future Black teachers of elementary schools in the City of St. Louis. This normal school was also founded by the St. Louis Public School System and was an extension of Sumner High School. In 1924, the Sumner Normal School became a four-year institution with the authority to grant the baccalaureate degree. In 1929, its name was changed to Stowe Teachers College in honor of the abolitionist and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe.
These two educational institutions were merged by the Board of Education of the St. Louis Public Schools in 1954 as the first of several steps to integrate the public schools of St. Louis. The merged institution retained the name Harris Teachers College. Later, in response to the many requests from alumni of Stowe Teachers College and members of the Greater St. Louis community, the Board of Education agreed to restore to the college's name the word "Stowe" and to drop the word "teachers."
In 1979, the General Assembly of the State of Missouri enacted Senate Bill 703, under which Harris-Stowe College became the newest member of the State's public higher education system. The institution's name was again changed by adding the word "State" and has been officially known as Harris-Stowe State College since then. In addition to the name change, the College's baccalaureate degree was changed to Bachelor of Science in Education. The College's teacher education curriculum was modified to comply with the new state standards and teacher certification requirements. Three separate teacher education majors were approved: early childhood education, elementary school education, and middle school/high school education.
In 1981, the College received state approval for a new degree program — the Bachelor of Science in Urban Education. This program is the only one of its kind at the undergraduate level in the United States. It is designed to prepare non-teaching urban education specialists who will effectively solve the many urban-related problems facing today's urban schools. In 1993, the State of Missouri signed Senate Bill 153, which authorized the College to expand its mission to address the unmet needs of Metropolitan St. Louis in various applied professional disciplines. In response to that authority, Harris-Stowe developed two new baccalaureate degree programs: Business Education with professional options in Accounting, Management Information Systems, General Business, and Marketing and Secondary Teacher Education with subject-matter options in Biology, English, Mathematics, and Social Studies.
HSSC has also received approval for a new baccalaureate program in Criminal Justice and is now developing a similar Health and Medical Services Management curriculum. These new programs and the Criminal Justice Program will also be based on relevant community college associate degrees. Thus, from its beginnings in the mid and late 19th century to its present status as a State institution of public higher education, HSSC has always been at the forefront of teacher education.
With its mission expanded to include other professional disciplines, the College will provide additional opportunities to Metropolitan St. Louis residents in other important professions. The college continues its quest for excellence, preparing students for effective roles in this region's various professions.