Columbia College President Dr. David Russell cuts the ribbon in front of a new mural at Columbia Regional Airport on Wednesday, July 10. Holding the ribbon are Vice President for Advancement Suzanne Rothwell, left, and Trustee Jolene Marra Schulz ’61. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

Travelers flying through Columbia Regional Airport will now be warmly greeted by Columbia College.

CC and community leaders gathered Wednesday, July 10, for the unveiling of a mural at Columbia Regional Airport, also known as COU. The display depicts the college’s history of innovation over its 173 years and counting.

“This mural represents the best of our institution, which I like to refer to as Columbia’s college,” said Columbia College President Dr. David Russell. “We are proud to have this on display as a pride point for our current students, alumni, faculty, staff and community at large. It fosters the connection that our more than 97,000 alumni share with Columbia, Missouri.”

The artwork highlights the examples set by some of the college’s preeminent leaders and alumni. Former President Luella St. Clair Moss served as one of the country’s first female college presidents, while Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee ’78 was a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

An electronic reproduction of the Columbia College mural now on display at Columbia Regional Airport.

More than 180,000 travelers went through COU in 2023, and that number is expected to increase to more than 200,000 in 2024. The airport opened a state-of-the-art terminal in October 2022.

“There are many people who worked tirelessly to make this (mural) happen, and their hard work will be enjoyed by thousands of people annually who use the airport,” said Columbia Regional Airport Manager Mike Parks. “Anyone who knows me knows that I love having visitors at the airport so we can showcase what a beautiful facility we have. This new display only adds to the many reasons people will enjoy their experience in the new terminal.”

“This new display only adds to the many reasons people will enjoy their experience in the new terminal.”

Columbia Regional Airport Manager Mike Parks

In his remarks, Russell thanked the Columbia City Council, Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, City Manager De’Carlon Seewood, the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the Columbia Airport Board and airport staff for their support of the institution and this project. He also recognized Regional Economic Development, Inc. President Stacey Button for her efforts in making the renovation of the terminal a reality and for the invitation to feature CC in the space.

Russell commended graphic designers Clint McMillen and Leslie Kennon for their work creating the mural and acknowledged Mitchell Fuemmeler from Nabholz Construction for installing the display.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors concluded the program with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“Congratulations CC and COU, smile, cut,” the Ambassadors said in unison, before Russell did the honors.