Fayetteville was home to the first degree-conferring college charted by the state.
Englishman Robert Graham emigrated to the U.S. and after attending a Disciples of Christ college in Virginia became a missionary for the faith. He organized a Disciples congregation in Fayetteville in 1848 and became its pastor, and in 1851 he bought ten acres on what is now College Avenue to hold a college.
On December 14, 1852, the state legislature passed an act letting Arkansas College “confer the degree of Doctor…and other academical degrees.” It awarded its first seven bachelor’s degrees in 1854. Arkansas College attracted students from Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and the Indian Territory and enrolled around two hundred students per year at its height.
When Arkansas seceded from the Union in 1861, the college’s students withdrew to serve in the Confederate army. The Union sympathies of Arkansas College’s founders led Rebel troops to burn the college down on March 4, 1862.
To learn more, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.