William Woods University
Other name
The Woods
Former names
Female Orphan School (1870–1899)
Daughters College (1899–1900)
William Woods College (1900–1993)
MottoAmor Vincit Omnia
Motto in English
Love Conquers All
TypePrivate university
Established1870; 154 years ago (1870)
Religious affiliation
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Endowment$25 million (2021)
PresidentJeremy L. Moreland
ProvostAimee Sapp

38°51′39″N 91°56′55″W / 38.8609°N 91.9485°W / 38.8609; -91.9485
ColorsForest Green & Maroon
Sporting affiliations
NAIAAmerican Midwest
MascotScreech the Owl

William Woods University is a private university in Fulton, Missouri. Founded in 1870, the university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Expanding its mission to address the need for graduate and adult-oriented programs, the institution became known as William Woods University in 1993. It began offering graduate degrees and admitting men as well as women into all of its programs. It enrolled 1,681 students in 2021.[1]


First known as the Female Orphan School, the institution was founded in 1870 in Camden Point, Missouri in response to the needs of girls who were orphaned during the American Civil War.

During the late nineteenth century, the institution moved to Fulton and expanded its elementary and secondary programs to accommodate young women who aspired to become teachers. Known briefly at the beginning of the twentieth century as Daughters College, it changed its name to William Woods College in 1900 to honor a major benefactor (William S. Woods, president of the National Bank of Commerce) and began offering a two-year college program. In 1962, anticipating dramatic changes in the role of American women in the labor force, William Woods became a four-year college.

In 1952, future U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave a commencement address at the college in which he said that he "always thought of America as a place in the divine scheme of things that was set aside as a promised land."[2] This is also a notable speech by the future President as it is one of his oldest surviving speeches.[3]

In 1992, William Woods College changed its name to William Woods University, and began offering a wide variety of graduate-level degree programs, geared toward the working adult. The university went co-education by accepting male students on campus in 1997.[4]


William Stone Woods

The campus in Fulton includes buildings of various types. Two favorites of the campus community are Dulany Auditorium and the William S. Woods Academic Building.[5]

Dulany Auditorium was built in 1907. Mrs. D.M. Dulany contributed $7,500 toward construction of the $24,000 building in memory of her husband. The stained glass portrait windows are of D.M. Dulany, W.H. Dulany and Benjamin L. Locke, all early supporters of the college.

The William S. Woods Academic Building, or the Academic Building, as most students refer to it, is a three-story brick structure which houses administrative offices, classrooms and faculty. It was completed in 1921.[6]

Rosa Parks Center

Rosa Parks Center, a Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) center for incarcerated girls, is a former university dormitory at WWU.[7] It holds 10-12 girls at a time.[8] WWU students are involved with the center. DYS and WWU agreed to the joint project in 2000, and the center opened in January 2001.[9]

Outreach program permanent sites

WWU offers graduate degree programs, degree completion programs, and select undergraduate programs at permanent sites in Fulton, Columbia, and Blue Springs, as well as temporary sites across Missouri.

Student life

The university has approximately 600 undergraduate students from all over the U.S. and numerous other countries.

William Woods offers approximately 40 student organizations, including co-curricular, honorary, religious/faith-based, service/leadership, and social/academic/special interest groups.[10][11]

Counseling and Health Services provides students with physical health related services as well as counseling/mental health related services.[12]

Safety officers work to provide a safe and orderly campus environment.[13]

Greek life

William Woods is home to three fraternities, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Gamma Delta, and Sigma Tau Gamma, and four sororities, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, and Delta Gamma.[14]


The William Woods athletic teams are called the Owls. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the American Midwest Conference (AMC) since the 1993–94 academic year.[15]

William Woods compete in 23 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, flag football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling; and co-ed sports include cheerleading and outdoor life sports.

On July 24, 2023, the school announced it would join the Heart of America Athletic Conference in 2024 as an associate member for football.[16]

Alumni and traditions

William Woods has more than 25,000 alumni.[citation needed] There are many traditions associated with the school, including the "Ivy Chain." The Ivy Ceremony marks the start of the students' college life. When they graduate, the ivy will be cut during another ceremony, held at commencement, symbolizing separation from college and the beginning of a new life. The tradition is believed to have begun more than a hundred years ago when the Class of 1899 planted ivy on the campus during a special graduation ceremony.[17]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b "Trends in Headcount Enrollment, 2013-2019". Missouri Department of Higher Education. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  2. ^ Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Digital Collection
  3. ^ "Reagan Quotes . Reagan . WGBH American Experience". PBS. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Mission and History | Missouri | William Woods University
  5. ^ "Buildings". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  6. ^ History of WWU
  7. ^ Charton, Scott. "Missouri juvenile justice practices praised, and copied" (Archive). Associated Press. Monday March 7, 2005. Retrieved on December 23, 2015.
  8. ^ "House Resolution No. 4910" (Archive). Missouri House of Representatives. Retrieved on December 23, 2015.
  9. ^ "William Woods University (Fulton, MO) Rosa Parks Center" (Archive). Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Retrieved on December 23, 2015.
  10. ^ "More about student organizations". Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  11. ^ "More about multicultural affairs". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  12. ^ "More about counseling/mental health services". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  13. ^ "More about campus safety". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  14. ^ "More about Greek Life". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  15. ^ Mosley, Josh (March 8, 2011). "Lady Owls fall in AMC tournament title game". Fulton Sun. Archived from the original on April 26, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  16. ^ "William Woods football joins Heart of America conference" ABC 17 News. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  17. ^ "Read the article about commencement 2010 to see the Ivy Chain Ceremony in action" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.