On September 12, 1866, three faculty members greeted 55 students as the University of Kansas opened its doors and became the first state university on the plains.
The legislation that organized and established the university stated:
"The object of the University should be to provide the inhabitants of this state with the means of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various branches of literature, science, and the arts."
The University of Kansas has since striven to meet that goal and in the process, has attracted outstanding teachers and students from all over the United States and the world. Nearly 150 years later, KU has become a major public research and teaching institution of 28,000 students and 2,600 faculty on five campuses (Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park, Wichita, and Salina). Its diverse elements are united by their mission to educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world.
The University of Kansas has 13 schools, including the only schools of pharmacy and medicine in the state, and offers more than 345 degree programs in 200 fields. Students, split almost equally between women and men, come from all 50 states and 105 countries and are about 15 percent multicultural. The University Honors Program is nationally recognized, and KU has produced 26 Rhodes Scholars, more than all other Kansas schools combined.
A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities since 1909, KU consistently earns high rankings for its academic programs. Members are chosen based upon their national significance in graduate studies and research.
KU's main campus is at Lawrence, Kansas (about 40 miles west of Kansas City). The University of Kansas Medical Center is in Kansas City and houses the University of Kansas School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Health Professions, and various Graduate Degrees and Certificate Programs.