Washington University was founded in 1853 by the Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot, grandfather of the Nobel Prize laureate poet T. S. Eliot.
The school's sports teams are called the Bears. They participate in the NCAA's Division III and in the University Athletic Association. Some events during the olympics of 1904 were held on its athletic field.
It also collaborates with a large St. Louis hospital, BJC HealthCare, sharing many of its medical resources and staff.