From the description of the columns:
The traditional symbol of the University of Missouri, first state university established west of the Mississippi River, is the group of the six Ionic columns which upheld the portico of Academic Hall, the initial building erected on the campus. Academic Hall was built 1840-1843 from the plans drawn by A. Stephen Hills, designer of the 1840 Missouri State Capitol. The building committee was composed of Thomas M. Allen. Eli E. Bass and William Lientz, members of the first University Board of Curators. Academic Hall consisted of a domed central section of three stories with two wings. The additional wings were added in 1885. The north portico, seventy-nine and one-half feet long and twenty-three feet wide, was supported by the polished stone columns, each forty-three feet high. Brick for the building was burned on the campus. Limestone for the columns was obtained from the Hinkson Creek valley and hauled to the building site by ox-drawn trucks. On January 9, 1892, Academic Hall was destroyed by fire and the columns were damaged by the flames. The Board of Curators determined at first to remove them, but through the efforts of alumni they were allowed to stand. Many colorful legends concern the columns and traditional university ceremonies are held before them. They honor the many generations of students and faculty who have passed under their shadow.