|Columbia, Missouri (population 89,593) is a “small town
with a big university, a place that’s Midwestern in its sensibilities but
carries a southern flavor too. The city is safe, smart and bustling, with
lots to do both indoors (theater, galleries and music) and out (hiking,
biking and plenty of parks),” according to Money Magazine (1999). It is
located halfway between St.
and Kansas City and provides a unique blend of urban and rural living. It
was named “Best Town To Live In” within the state by Rural Missouri
Magazine. Columbia also boasts the best hamburger (Booch’s Office) and best
coffee spot (Lakota Coffee Company) in the state, according to Rural
Missouri Magazine readers.
Reports from the 2000 Census reflect Columbia's growth in population and
industry. Importantly, the number of people who identify and minority
affiliation is also increasing. The Hispanic population grew 91.5% from 905
to 1,733 between l990 and 2000. The African-American population increased
33.7% from 6,859 to 9,173. The Asian community increased 43% from 2,847 to
3,636. Additionally, opportunities for persons of various ethnic and racial
backgrounds are available though the academic community of the University of
Missouri- Columbia (MU). Accumulating data shows that since l988, there has
been a gradual increase in the number of minority faculty at MU, including
American Indians, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Hispanics. Since
l992, MU has engaged in an active and successful effort to increase the
number of minority students in all specialty areas. In opposition to the
national trend, MU accomplished a 30% increase in applications from Black
students in 2003-2004.
Columbia also has a strong awareness of Americans with disabilities, and
is taking major steps to reduce architectural and communication barriers in
an effort to increase accessibility and quality of life for those with
disability needs. For persons interested in connecting with agencies to
develop and further their understanding of disability issues, a number of
agencies are available. These include Access Arts –School of Service, Advent
Enterprises, Alternative Community Training Inc, Boone County Group Homes
and Family Support, Bureau of Special Health-care Needs and Central Missouri
Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled.
Columbia emphasizes education, and this helps to account for its youthful
population. Close to one third of the area, population is between the ages
of 25 to 44 years of age. The Columbia Public School System is strong, with
90% of its graduates going on to post high school education. In addition,
the public school system produces some of the largest numbers of merit
scholars graduating from Missouri private or public school systems. Three
separate colleges or universities make their home in Columbia, The
University of Missouri, also Columbia’s largest employer, enrolls 27,980
students in its undergraduate and graduate school programs. Columbia College
has grown from Christian Female College, the first women’s college west of
the Mississippi River, into a private, coeducational institution offering
associate, baccalaureate, and masters degrees in the liberal arts and
sciences. Stephens College, founded as a school for women in l833, continues
to focus on meeting the changing needs of women in its undergraduate
Health care is also critical in Columbia, where one in six people work in
a health-related profession. Columbia boasts some of the highest quality
health care in the world, and the local hospitals offer 1189 inpatient beds.
The University of Missouri Medical School services area hospitals.
Many consider Columbia a particularly livable town. Its low cost of
living, emphasized by its relatively high employment rate and by its
affordable housing, its central location, its temperate climate and its
education, business, and health care resources all combine to make this a
uniquely attractive home.