Park University is an independent, non-profit private institution of higher education based in Parkville, Missouri and has 40 campus center locations in 21 states and online. Established in 1875 as a small religiously-affiliated college, it has now expanded into an comprehensive master level institution and one of the top providers of education courses for the U.S. military.
Park is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
The flagship campus of Park University is located in the city of Parkville, Missouri. The Park University Graduate School is located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. There are 40 campuses in 21 U.S. states including three campuses in the Kansas City area (Downtown Kansas City, Independence and Parkville) and a campus center in Austin, Texas. Most of the satellite campuses are on or near United States Air Force bases and share quarters with other businesses/organizations.
The 800-acre (323.7 ha) home campus currently has an enrollment of 1,600 students representing 50 states and 106 international countries.. The entire extended system had an annual student enrollment of 23,000. 
The school which was originally called Park College was founded in 1875 by John A. McAfee on land donated by George S. Park with its initial structure being the stone hotel Park owned on the bluff above the Missouri River.
The original concept called for students to receive free tuition and board in exchange for working up to half day in the college’s farm, electrical shop or printing plant. According to the terms of the arrangement if the “Parkville Experiment” did not work out within five years, the college grounds were to revert to Park.
There were 17 students in the first school year and in the first graduation class there were five women. McAfee led until his death in 1890. His son Lowell M. McAfee became the second president of Park until stepping down in 1913. The first international student at Park University arrived in 1880 from Japan.
The defining landmark of the campus is Mackay Hall, named after Carroll County, Illinois banker Duncan Mackay who donated $25,000 in materials for the structure shortly before his death. The building was constructed using limestone mined on the campus grounds and built with the labor of students. Construction began in 1883 and was finished by 1893. Today the building is the main focal point of the campus and dominates the hillside, overlooking the town of Parkville. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
For many decades the school was affiliated with the Presbyterian Church but it no longer has that affiliation.[when?] The college has had a relationship with the military since 1889. However, the relationship was greatly expanded in 1972 with the Military Resident Center System. Park’s total enrollment has grown from its small base since 1996 when it first began offering online courses. In 2000 it was renamed Park University.
Park University teams are known as the Pirates. The university competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, track & field and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball.
In 2008-09, the Pirates had 24 student-athletes earn 25 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete distinctions, and six Park student-athletes were named to NAIA All-America teams, including Jon Meriweather, who was named to the NAIA All-America team to record his school-record fifth All-America distinction. In 2007-08, Meriweather was an NAIA All-American, Victory Sports Network All-American and a Basketball Times All-American. He was also named preseason All-America by Basketball Times prior to 2008-09.
Park was represented in seven NAIA national championship events, including both the men’s and women’s soccer NAIA national championships, marking the seventh-straight appearance for the Park men’s soccer program, marking the second-longest active streak of tournament appearances.
Park also made its eighth women’s soccer appearance in the NAIA national tournament, while the men’s volleyball program hosted the NAIA National Invitational Tournament the past two seasons, winning the tournament championship in 2008.
Park’s softball program made its first NAIA national tournament appearance in 2009, one year after the women’s golf program made its first-ever national championship in the 2008 season.
The Department of Athletics at Park University is led by Claude English, Director of Athletics, who was also the Pirates’ men’s basketball coach from 1993 to 2005. From 1981 to 1984, English was the head men’s basketball coach at his alma mater, the University of Rhode Island, and he played one season in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1970-71. Park University women’s basketball coach Joe C. Meriweather is also NBA veteran, playing 10 years for the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Jazz, New York Knicks and Kansas City Kings.