ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- As February marks the celebration of Black History Month, many are taking time to learn the trials and triumphs African Americans endured then and now.
But one local university has a long trace of rich history dating back to over 160 years.
Harris-Stowe State University was born of the all-white Harris Teachers College in 1857 and the all-black Stowe Teachers College in 1890. The two schools merged after the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education that mandated public school integration.
The university was designated as a teachers college that meant state law banned it from granting any masters programs.
Harris-Stowe's current president Dwaun Warmack, Ph.D., arrived in 2014 and knew there needed to be a change. After a state bill passed in 2015, the restrictions were removed.
Warmack is one of the youngest serving presidents of a 4-year institution in the nation. As a HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), Warmack says it represents St. Louis well.
He added they have been intentional about not raising tuition in spite of major state budget cuts.
"So we've been criticized for that. Who don't understand the mission an institution that serves kids for socio-economic backgrounds. 78 percent are the first in their families in 2018 to go to college," Warmack said, "Thinking about the transformation and because of our commitment to see the kids to and through the finish line, I just refused to put it on their backs just because the state cut our budget."
Warmack says the university is focused on the whole student academically, personally and socially.
In 2014, there were only 14 degree programs offered at Harris-Stowe but now it's up to 51 and counting.