Millsaps College

Located on a one-hundred-acre urban campus in the heart of Jackson, Millsaps College is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Millsaps College was founded in 1890 by Reuben Webster Millsaps, a Confederate major and Harvard-trained business, finance, and church leader from Pleasant Valley, Mississippi. Inspired by his appreciation for education and concern for educational opportunities, Millsaps presented the Mississippi Methodist community with a personal gift of fifty thousand dollars for the establishment of a Christian college. Mississippi’s Methodist community matched the gift, and with the help of Bishop Charles Betts Galloway, Millsaps College was soon established.

Throughout its early years Millsaps offered the state of Mississippi new opportunities for recreation and education. In 1901 the college built the state’s first golf course, and in 1902 Mary Letitia Holloman became the school’s first female graduate. In 1965 Millsaps became Mississippi’s first all-white college to voluntarily desegregate.

Ten men and one woman have occupied the president’s office: Dr. William Belton Murrah (1890–1910), Dr. David Carlisle Hull (1910–12), Dr. Alexander Farrar Watkins (1912–23), Dr. David Martin Key (1923–38), Dr. Marion Lofton Smith (1938–52), Dr. Homer Ellis Finger Jr. (1952–64), Dr. Benjamin Barnes Graves (1965–70), Dr. Edward McDaniel Collins Jr. (1970–78), Dr. George Marion Harmon (1978–2000), Dr. Frances Lucas (2000–2010), and Dr. Robert Wesley Pearigen (2010–).

Millsaps provides its more than eleven hundred domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students with thirty-three major and thirty-four minor programs of study and a faculty of more than ninety full-time professors. Along with its traditional programs in Jackson, Millsaps also affords students opportunities to participate in internship and study abroad programs within their individual fields. The college also offers academic opportunities to the greater Jackson community through the Continuing Education program and Community Enrichment Series for adult students and its summer programs for children. Millsaps College boasts a proud legacy of academic and social enrichment within the state as well as an alumni network that includes more than thirteen thousand people around the world.

Millsaps students and alumni take pride in the college’s challenging academic offerings and in the Millsaps Majors, the school’s sports teams. The Majors, whose colors are purple and white, compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. Many students also participate in intramural athletics and in some of the more than eighty student-led clubs and organizations, including a thriving fraternity and sorority community. The college publishes a student newspaper, the Purple and White; a yearbook, the Bobashela; and a literary magazine, the Stylus.

In keeping with the beliefs of the Methodist Church, the college welcomes students from all religious backgrounds—or no religious background. The college maintains its relationship with the Methodist Church through partnerships such as the Center for Ministry and the Faith and Work Initiative, which are open to all students. Students at Millsaps also have the opportunity to join a number of ecumenical religious organizations. The library houses the J. B. McCain Archives of Mississippi Methodism.

Millsaps’s urban campus plays host to numerous special events, among them the Millsaps Arts and Lecture Series, the Spanish Film Series, the Elise and William Winter Speaker Series, and Homecoming. In addition, the school operates the Lewis Art Gallery.

Further Reading

  • George Lott Harrell, History of Millsaps College (1943)
  • Millsaps College website,

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Millsaps College
  • Author
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 6, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 2, 2018