Missouri Western State University
Former names
St. Joseph Junior College (1915–1965)
Missouri Western Junior College (1965–1969)
Missouri Western College (1969–1973)
Missouri Western State College (1973–2005)
MottoEverything is Possible
TypePublic university
Established1915 (1915)
PresidentElizabeth Kennedy
ProvostLaura Reynolds
Students3,815 [1]
Location, ,
United States

39°45′29″N 94°47′08″W / 39.7581°N 94.7856°W / 39.7581; -94.7856
CampusUrban, 744 acres (301.1 ha)
ColorsBlack and gold[2]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIThe MIAA
MascotMax the Griffon

Missouri Western State University is a public university in St. Joseph, Missouri. As of 2023, it enrolled 3,815 students.[1]


Missouri Western State University was founded in 1915 as St. Joseph Junior College and held courses in the original location of Central High School at 13th and Patee. In 1933 when Central High School moved to its current location the junior college relocated to the Robidoux Polytechnic High School building at 10th Street between Edmond and Charles. In 1917 it adopted the Griffon as its mascot.[3]

The establishment of a four-year school was a central campaign issue in the 1964 Democratic gubernatorial primary, when Warren Hearnes of the Bootheel challenged Hilary A. Bush of Kansas City. Hearnes promised to transform the college into a four-year institution despite the presence of another state university (then Northwest Missouri State College, now Northwest Missouri State University) 40 miles (64 km) to the north in Maryville.

Hearnes narrowly won the primary and then won general election. A year later, the college became Missouri Western Junior College, and was transferred from the St. Joseph School District to the Missouri Western Junior College District, comprising 11 school districts in five counties. The college was granted four-year status as Missouri Western College in 1969 during Hearnes' second term. The Missouri Western Junior College district funded the first two years, with the state funding the final two years.[4][5]

Years later, Missouri Western named its library after Hearnes; school officials said Missouri Western would have never become a four-year college without him.[6]

Shortly after the conversion, the college acquired the farm of St. Joseph State Hospital #2, on the east side of Interstate 29, for its campus on the east edge of St. Joseph. The original plan had called for it to be built across from the hospital, just west of Bishop LeBlond High School and closer to downtown St. Joseph.[7]

The college became Missouri Western State College in 1973 and became fully supported by the state in 1977. It was granted university status in 2005 and began offering graduate degrees in 2007.[8]

In 1988, Shalia Aery, commissioner of higher education under Governor John Ashcroft, recommended that Northwest close and leave Missouri Western as the surviving school.[9] That plan was ultimately dropped.

Legislation in 2005 changed the institution's name to Missouri Western State University.[10] That legislation designated Missouri Western as Missouri's Applied Learning Institution and allowed it to grant master's degrees. The university graduated its first 12 master's degree recipients in May 2009.[11] In its first six years offering graduate degrees, graduate enrollment at Western grew by 100% or more each year. As of 2016, Western offered 18 master's degrees and six graduate certificates.[12]

In 2010, the Steven L. Craig School of Business was accredited by AACSB International.[13]

As of April 2020, the school planned to phase out or radically revising nearly 60 of its degree offerings. These changes were a response to years of "downward student enrollment trends, strained state funding resources, rising costs, deferred maintenance needs, long-term debt [and] now the economic impact of covid-19".[14][15]

The university's most visible corporate affiliation is with Hillyard, Inc., a cleaning supplies company.[citation needed] The school's Spratt Memorial Stadium is named for Elliot "Bub" Spratt, an executive at the company. Leah Spratt Hall is named for a sister of Elliot. The university hosts the Hillyard Tip Off Basketball Classic tournament.[citation needed]

Campus buildings

Missouri Western grounds from across Interstate 29 in 2007 prior to construction of the Kansas City Chiefs training camp (to the right of the MWSU sign)
Campus clock

The main buildings of Missouri Western State University are all dedicated to someone who is an important part in MWSU's history.[16]

Building name Function
Agenstein Hall Math and Science Departments
Baker Family Fitness Center Student Fitness Center
Beshears Hall Housing
Blum Union Dining (Aramark), Center for Multiculture Education, Center for Student Engagement, Esports Arena, Health Center, Campus Police
Commons Building Housing
Eder Hall Admissions, Department of English and Modern Languages,[17] Financial Aid, Student Affairs
Fulkerson Center Conference rooms
Vartabedian Hall Housing
Griffon Indoor Sports Complex Athletic training facility, coaches' offices
Hearnes Center Library, Bookstore, Center for Academic Support, Information Technology Services, Instructional Media Center
Juda Hall Housing
Leaverton Hall Housing
Logan Hall Housing
Looney Complex Athletics Department, (HPER)–Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Services
Missouri Department of Conservation Missouri Department of Conservation, Biology department
Murphy Hall Communication and Journalism; Education; Nursing and Allied Health; Psychology
Popplewell Hall Administrative building, Stephen L. Craig School of Business, College of Professional Studies; Department of History, Philosophy, and Geography, Department of Economics, Political Science, & Sociology.
Potter Hall Art and Music Departments
Remington Hall Math and Science Departments
Scanlon Hall Housing
Spratt Hall Advancement offices, Alumni Relations, Foundation, Public Relations, Walter Cronkite Memorial
Vaselakos Hall Housing
Wilson Hall Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, Social Work, Engineering Technology, Military Science, and Law Enforcement Academy


Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Football Golf
Golf Soccer
Track and field Softball
Esports Esports
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor

Main article: Missouri Western Griffons

Missouri Western is the home of the Griffons. MWSU competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and is in NCAA Division II. Its highest attended football games are in the Missouri Western–Northwest Missouri State football rivalry. Beginning in the fall of 2017, Missouri Western will add six new sports offering a total of 16 sports.[18]

Kansas City Chiefs training camp

Kansas City Chiefs training camp.

The school has been the summer training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2010 (except 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the National Football League to require all teams to hold camp at their home facilities). The $15.7 million facility was paid for by $10 million from the Chiefs (from state tax credits) and $1.2 million from student fees at Missouri Western, with the rest coming from the City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County and private donations.[19] It was designed by St. Joseph architect firm Ellison-Auxier Architects, Inc., which designed the school's Spratt Hall and clock tower.[20]

A climate-controlled, 120-yard NFL-regulation grass indoor field, with a locker room, weight room, training room, classrooms and office space was completed in the summer of 2010.[21]

National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse

The National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse[22] was created using National Science Foundation funds awarded to the institution under Brian Cronk.[23] The clearinghouse is an online repository where undergraduates in STEM fields can post articles subject to faculty approval (rather than a formal peer review). It has been online since 1997 and has been featured in magazines such as Science and Nature.[24][25] Articles from the clearinghouse have been used as resources for journalists at publications including the Wall Street Journal[26] and the Los Angeles Daily News.[27] The Clearinghouse was deactivated in January of 2024, however, an archive of the articles exists at the Web Archive[28]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b "Enrollment Report for Missouri Public and Comprehensive Independent Institutions". Missouri Department of Higher Education. December 1, 2024. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  2. ^ "Brand Guide | Our Brand | MWSU". Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  3. ^ Robidoux School National Register of Historic Places application
  4. ^ Larsen, Lawrence Harold (1971). A History of Missouri. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 9780826215468.
  5. ^ "MWSU History". Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  6. ^ Hearnes instrumental in Western’s BIRTH stjoenews.net - August 18, 2009 Archived November 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ MWSU Acquires St. Joseph Hospital # 2 Archived July 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ NCAA History between 1910 and 1980 Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "ST. Louis Post-Dispatch Newspaper Archives". newsbank.com.
  10. ^ "Section 174-251 Missouri Western State University, miss". MO.gov.
  11. ^ Inaugural master's students earn degrees at Western - St. Joseph News-Press - May 10, 2009 Archived May 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Graduate School". Missouri Western State University. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "AACSB - Page Not Found". aacsb.edu. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. ((cite web)): Cite uses generic title (help)
  14. ^ https://www.missouriwestern.edu/acadaff/wp-content/uploads/sites/134/2020/04/BOG-Approved-List.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  15. ^ "President Wilson recommends cost savings exceeding $6 million per year". April 24, 2020.
  16. ^ MWSU Campus Map of Buildings
  17. ^ "Department of English and Modern Languages". missouriwestern.edu.
  18. ^ Dave Riggert (June 23, 2016). "Missouri Western adds Track & Field and Cross Country; will begin competing in 2017". Stjosephpost.com. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  19. ^ Chiefs camp carries heftier price tag St. Joseph News-Press - January 16, 2009 Archived January 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Western makes familiar firm choice for Chiefs training camp facilities". Griffon News.
  21. ^ "Chiefs training camp to return to Missouri beginning in 2010". Kansas City Chiefs. June 18, 2009. Archived from the original on October 3, 2009. Retrieved June 19, 2009.
  22. ^ "National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse". www.webclearinghouse.net. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  23. ^ Note: Grant DUE 97-51113
  24. ^ Science, American Association for the Advancement of (December 11, 1998). "NET NEWS: Undergrad Journals Take Root on the Web". Science. 282 (5396): 1951c–1951. Bibcode:1998Sci...282R1951.. doi:10.1126/science.282.5396.1951c. ISSN 0036-8075. S2CID 220102318.
  25. ^ Chen, Josette (May 1, 2001). "The Youth Team". Nature. 411 (6833): 13–14. Bibcode:2001Natur.411...13C. doi:10.1038/35075162. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 11333946. S2CID 5262883.
  26. ^ "Home Décor Fades to Black" Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2006, p.W10
  27. ^ "Despite Hoax, Bigfoot Believers Keep the Faith," LA Daily News, August 22, 2008
  28. ^ "National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse". September 28, 2023. Archived from the original on September 28, 2023. Retrieved February 13, 2024.
  29. ^ "Michael Hill". NFL.com.