Columbia College, founded in 1854, is a private, liberal arts, womens college with coeducational evening, graduate and online programs. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Columbia College advocates a holistic approach to education, with an emphasis on respect for the individual and service to the community. Among the Colleges most notable features are an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized honors program led by the 2010-2011 United States Professor of the Year, emphasis on leadership development for women, and unique opportunities for career-focused field experience and travel-study in the United States and abroad. Through the Institute for Leadership and Professional Excellence, every first-year student benefits from a unique approach to personal and professional development, including her very own board of directors as well as multiple, hands-on learning opportunities such as internships, job shadowing and service learning. The rapidly growing womens athletics program, recognized consistently with the Champions of Character Five Star Institutional Award, features competition in nine sports through the Appalachian Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Located in Columbia, South Carolina, the campus is within minutes of a wide variety of cultural and recreational activities in the capital city. Residents enjoy the moderate climate year-round, a vibrant metropolitan area, college and university sports, parks, rivers, Lake Murray, museums, a nationally renowned zoo, and performing arts.