Sallie Eola Reneau was born on August 1, 1836 in Somerville, Tennessee, and had the first womens' public university named after her.
Sallie Eola Reneau was a crusader for state-supported higher education for women in the South and the founder of Reneau Female Academy, which was later named Mississippi College for Women at Columbus, Mississippi. Reneau hall, at this college, is named in her honor. Sallie was a remarkable woman and, when the yellow fever epidemic broke out in West Tennessee, she went and volunteered her services as a nurse. She caught yellow fever while in Germantown, Tennessee. A telegram was sent to her father in Washington, D.C., and he boarded the train to come to her bedside. In Pittsburg, a telegram was waiting for his train to tell him Sallie had died.
On August 10, 2009, university president Dr. Claudia Limbert announced that a new name for the college, Reneau University, would be presented to the state college board and state legislature for approval.