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Mississippi University for Women (2009)

Brief Description:

MUW was established in 1884 as the first public college for women in the United States, and since 1982 has been a tradition of excellence for both women and men. The university is located in the heart of the Columbus, Mississippi, historic district and is one of the nation’s architecturally most distinguished campuses. U.S.News & World Report has consistently ranked MUW among the top Southern public master’s universities. MUW also has been prominently ranked in other leading publications such Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Consumer’s Digest magazines.

Mission Statement:

A Carnegie Master’s II public institution, Mississippi University for Women provides high-quality undergraduate and graduate education for women and men in a variety of liberal arts and professional programs, while maintaining its historic commitment to academic and leadership development for women. MUW provides education in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education and Human Sciences, College of Nursing and Speech Language Pathology, and the Culinary Arts Institute, utilizing small classes and emphasizing a personalized learning environment. The graduates of MUW are prepared for competitive careers and excellent graduate and professional schools. MUW provides educational opportunities throughout Mississippi and the United States while addressing the unique educational and public service needs of northeast Mississippi and adjoining counties in northwest Alabama.

President's Quote:

“We take great pride in the university’s heritage and look forward to a bright future with so many opportunities ahead of us.” -- Dr. Claudia A. Limbert

Major Accomplishments:

  • Established in 1884 as the first public college for women in the United States, MUW is proud of its tradition of excellence for women and men.
  • U.S.News & World Report's 2009 guide, "America's Best Colleges," ranked MUW 12th among Southern public master’s universities as well as No. 33 in the Best Universities Master’s by region category.

  • MUW's quality of education has consistently been reflected in other national rankings, including being named No. 8 of the top 50 best values for public colleges and universities by Consumers Digest magazine and 54 of the 100 best values in public colleges across America by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

  • Graduates in MUW's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program have a 99.27 percent pass rate on the National Licensure Exam since inception of the program.

  • The outstanding reputation of MUW's teacher education program continues to make the job prospects for its graduates bright. Increased demand for quality teachers gives MUW graduates a huge advantage in securing a teaching position.

  • MUW's Tennessee Valley Authority Investment Club won an award of $3,000 for its performance in 2007, bringing the club’s award total to $43,000 since 2001.

  • MUW’s highly regarded Culinary Arts Institute is one of the few programs of its kind in the nation offering a baccalaureate degree. For two years in a row, CAI students have garnered top honors at the finals of the Research Chefs Association Student Culinology Competition in Seattle.

  • MUW is one of a limited number of universities in the country and the only public institution in Mississippi to offer a bachelor's in music therapy.

  • Lectures, seminars, programs, and our annual Welty Weekend at The W, which honors the university’s world-renowned alumna Eudora Welty, annually draws noted authors and scholars.

  • MUW offers high school students the chance to jump start their college careers by offering dual credit and dual enrollment. MUW began offering the program in the early 1990s and has seen a 158 percent increase in participants in the last five years.

  • MUW is home to the Mississippi Governor’s School and the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, the fourth public, residential high school for gifted students in the nation.

  • With 23 of its more than 60 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, MUW's campus is one of the nation's most architecturally distinguished and in the next five years will invest approximately $35 million on renewal of the campus, including new buildings and renovations of existing buildings.


Fun Facts:

  • MUW’s gingko tree was planted in 1900 as part of an experiment by the Department of Agriculture to determine if the tree could survive in the Southern climate.
  • In 1971, Maj. Stuart Roosa carried a silk emblem of Mississippi State College for Women, now MUW, on Apollo moon mission. The W has a rich history filled with many traditions that create a strong link between current students, alumni and the University.

  • Magnolia Chain

    The Magnolia Chain Ceremony is one of the most treasured traditions at MUW. Although its exact origin is unclear, some form of the Magnolia Chain Ceremony has been a part of commencement at MUW since 1890. The chain was made of daisies in 1894 and was fashioned from other flowers in subsequent years.

    In 1905, it was decided that the state flower was the most appropriate choice for the chain. The white magnolia blossoms symbolize the purity of achievement, and the green leaves represent the growing experiences of the graduates over the past four years.

    Tradition holds that graduates who are able to walk away with a magnolia blossom or bud after the ceremony will find good fortune and romance.

  • Orr Chapel Owl
    The night before big tests, MUW students throw pennies and try to hit the owl. If you can hit the owl, you will be granted wisdom to make an A on your test.

  • Freshman Serenade
    The freshman class gets together to choose a theme and learn class songs. After serenading the upperclassmen across campus, they serenade the University President at her home.


Notable Alumni:


  • Eudora Welty *
    Pulitzer Prize-winning author and leading lady of letters in America.

  • Elizabeth Hazen *
    Scientist who was the co-discoverer of the world's leading antifungal medication.

  • Dorothy Bush *
    Served as the secretary of the National Democratic Party for 45 years.

  • Blanche Colton Williams *
    Writer who started the nationally prominent O.Henry Short Story Awards.

  • Evelyn McPhail *
    Served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

  • Lenore Prather
    First woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice in Mississippi.

  • Valerie Jaudon
    Only Mississippi woman artist featured in H.H. Arnason's History of Modern Art (third edition).

  • Denise Dillard
    Playwright and winner of the American Theatre Festival's National Student Playwright Award, whose play, Blue Collar Blues, was performed in the Kennedy Center.

  • Toni Seawright
    First black Miss Mississippi

  • The mothers of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner both attended MUW.

* Deceased


  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662