The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 in Columbia as the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Today, with an enrollment of more than 30,000 students, 13,000 full-time employees and 317,000 alumni, Mizzou is an important investment for the state and nation. MU students represent every Missouri county, all 50 states and 100 countries. Based on quality of teaching, research and scholarship, MU is one of only 60 public and private U.S. universities invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. AAU membership helps Mizzou attract external funding and recruit top faculty and students. The state’s largest and most comprehensive university, Mizzou has more than 300 degree programs — including more than 90 online options — through 19 colleges and schools and is one of only six public universities nationwide that can claim a medical school, veterinary medicine college and a law school on the same campus. The university’s nationally prominent faculty bring discoveries into the classroom, publish more than 1,600 books and scholarly articles each year and spend $248 million annually on scientific research; they account for about 70 percent of the research dollars flowing to the state’s public universities. Graduate programs, professional schools and the discovery of new knowledge through research add unparalleled value to an MU degree. Students benefit from hands-on learning while contributing over 250,000 hours of community service annually, participating in undergraduate research and taking advantage of Missouri’s largest study abroad program. Supporters worldwide invest in MU by making private gifts for scholarships, academic programs, facilities and life-changing research. Hundreds are participating in the university’s $1.3 billion Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign to endow resources for MU’s future, support signature research centers and institutes, and fuel a campus renaissance Designated a botanic garden, MU’s 1,262-acre main campus features more than 42,000 plants and trees in numerous thematic and special collection settings. Many university buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Citizens across the state connect with Mizzou by participating in extension programs in every county, visiting MU Health Care specialists, competing in state competitions in MU facilities and cheering on the Missouri Tigers at athletic events. A member of the Southeastern Conference, Mizzou's NCAA Division I athletic program has 20 sports, many ranked in the top 25 nationally.