Campus Highlights

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  • The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Entrepreneurship degree program at Missouri State University-West Plains received a financial boost in the fall 2008 semester with the establishment of the Wendell Bailey Entrepreneurship Program Endowment. The $100,000 endowment was named in honor of the former Missouri State Treasurer, state representative and Congressman from Willow Springs who recommended the University develop an entrepreneurship program as a way to help students find careers in business and boost the area's economy.
  • The promise of an annual gift for the next five years from the Philanthropic Women for Education organization will lead to a professorship in the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program at Missouri State University-West Plains. In August 2008, members of the organization agreed that the group would contribute $11,250 each year for the next five years toward the professorship. The annual contribution would be used to augment the salary of the professorship while University officials use the next five years to search for a donor or organization that would fully endow the position.
  • An endowment for the Corps of Opportunity Scholarship Program was established thanks to a generous gift from William and Virginia Darr and an estate gift of nearly $300,000 from the late Robert and Adeline Moore.
  • Members of the Missouri State University Board of Governors approved a "memorandum of understanding" with the West Plains R-7 School Board at its May 17 meeting. The cooperative agreement allows eligible sophomores to complete Missouri State University-West Plains' Associate of Arts in General Studies degree during their junior and senior years. The program, called the Early Degree Program, will be offered for the first time in Fall 2009 and will give eligible students the opportunity to complete the degree and their high school diploma at the same time.
  • Missouri State-West Plains has been recognized by "The Great Colleges to Work For" program sponsored by The Chronicle for Higher Education. The West Plains Campus was recognized in 8 out of the 15 categories for two-year institutions, including Faculty-Administrative Relations & Collaborative Governance, Job Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance, Internal Communications, Connection to Institution and Pride, Supervisor-Department Chair Relationship, Tuition Reimbursement and Vacation or Paid Time-off. Missouri State-West Plains was also named to the Honor Roll for small two-year institutions (2,999 students or less). The Honor Roll lists the top three colleges in each size category for two-year institutions based on the number of times they were recognized in the individual categories. The results were based on the Chronicle's online survey that was sent to faculty and staff at the end of the spring semester.
  • The tutor training program at the Student Advisement and Academic Support Center received recertification in the spring 2009 semester from the College Reading and Learning Association's (CRLA) International Tutor Certification Program. The length of the recertification was for five years, the maximum awarded by the certification program. The recertification ensures students are receiving help from tutors who are at the top of their game.
  • Missouri State University-West Plains set a new enrollment record for the fall 2008 semester, breaking 1,800 students for the first time in University history. Final enrollment figures show 1,834 students were enrolled, a four percent increase over the record-breaking tally for the fall 2007 semester. Enrollment also was up in the spring and summer semesters. Another enrollment record was set for the Spring 2009 semester with 1,518 students enrolled, a 7 percent increase in headcount and credit hour production. Enrollment was up 2 percent in the summer semester, with a credit hour increase of 10 percent.
  • Missouri State University-West Plains has been awarded a $99,173 College Access Challenge Grant through the Mo. Department of Higher Education to help fund its "Project Threshold" program designed to help students, prospective students and their families learn about, prepare for and finance a postsecondary education. University officials received word in May that the grant has been approved for one year, and University officials can apply for renewal for a second year.
  • Missouri State University-West Plains received notification in June that the institution will receive $170,000 in 2009-10 to fund additional students in its Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree program. The additional funding is part of the $40 million statewide initiative called Caring for Missourians. The funds will cover the costs of training up to 20 additional nursing students in a second admission/class cycle beginning in January 2010 and ending in December 2011.
  • For the past 13 years, Missouri State-West Plains graduates have scored at or above the national mean on the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP).
  • Sixty-four students were enrolled in the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program for Fall 2008; this is the largest class since the program started in 1998.
  • Missouri State University-West Plains defeated Jefferson College to win the NJCAA Region 16 championship for the 10th consecutive year. The Lady Grizzlies (36-13) placed seventh in the NJCAA National Volleyball Championship Tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa.


  • Enrollment increased by double digits for Fall 2007, Spring 2008 and Summer 2008.
  • Fifty students were enrolled in the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program for Fall 2007; this is the largest class since the program started in 1998.
  • Placement rates for the Associate of Science in Nursing program are 100 percent for those graduates looking for work. The program is filled to capacity (80) due to demand.
  • The Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Therapy program received "initial accreditation" from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and is training its third cohort of Respiratory Therapists.
  • Beginning in fall 2007, Missouri State-West Plains officials restructured the course schedule to offer most classes on Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday. This new format, along with the many online and distance learning opportunities available at Missouri State-West Plains, gave many students the opportunity to take a full load of courses while only coming on campus two days a week.
  • A Peace Officer basic training program, in cooperation with the Missouri Sheriffs' Association Training Academy, began in the fall semester at six sites. Five additional locations were added for the spring semester. A total of 119 Missouri State-West Plains students were enrolled in Missouri Sheriff's Academy courses at 11 locations during the spring.
  • The Corps of Opportunity Program was implemented in Summer 2008 when six students were selected and started work in campus positions in June. The program combines scholarships and work opportunities on campus for qualified students with substantial unmet financial need to help pay for their college education
  • The Associate of Arts degree in Education received approval from the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education during the spring semester.
  • Approximately 75 fourth through eighth graders enrolled in the first Kids' College program held in July 2007. Due to enthusiastic response, it will become an annual event.
  • A Grizzly Mentor program was started in Fall 2007. The program is designed to enlist community volunteers to promote the value of higher education. The principal role of volunteers is to mentor college prospects of any age to consider higher education in general and Missouri State-West Plains in particular. Approximately 125 community members are participating in the Grizzly Mentor program.
  • A ribbon cutting ceremony and open house celebration was held in July 2007 for Missouri State University-West Plains' new respiratory therapy facility. The facility, which had been housed in the Parkway Shopping Center, moved to 304 Garfield Avenue in time for Summer 2007 classes.
  • In September, Missouri State University received a $2.927 million National Science Foundation grant for the Viticulture and Enology Science & Technology Alliance (VESTA) program. The grant to Missouri State will be used to provide online courses about the grape and wine industry to two-year colleges in 12 states. Missouri State-West Plains is one of the participating colleges. The VESTA program has drawn 270 students from 27 states over the last three years to the only online Internet learning program of its kind. The VESTA program is one of the featured projects in the newly released National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Projects Impact Book. The publication features 84 projects funded between 2002 and 2007. The Projects Impact Book is distributed to members of Congress, the administration, and across the country.
  • The first-ever Campus Opportunities Campaign for academics brought in over $75,000 in donations to support the most urgent needs for students. In addition to the funds raised in the campaign, long-time Missouri State University supporters William and Virginia Darr of Springfield contributed matching funds of $50,000 to the campus' Corps of Opportunity "work-to-learn" scholarship program.


  • The first SMSU-WP graduation ceremony was held at the SMSU Branch Campus in Dalian, People's Republic of China. Forty-five students received SMSU-WP’s Associate of Arts in General Studies degree, with an emphasis in Business, during the ceremony, which was held in June at the branch campus' location at Liaoning Normal University in Dalian. This was the first group of students to complete the SMSU-WP educational program since its establishment three years ago.
  • The Grizzly Sculpture was dedicated on April 24, 2003. SMSU-WP was the recipient of a donation of a 10-foot, 1,385-pound bronze Grizzly Bear sculpture by SMSU Board of Governors member William Darr and his wife, Virginia, of Springfield. The sculpture was created by Dr. Robert R. Taylor of Ransom Canyon, Texas, and is located in a plaza off Cleveland Avenue between Looney Hall and the Garnett Library. SMSU-WP students voted to expend student Capital Projects funds to construct the plaza. The sculpture depicts SMSU-WP's athletic mascot, the Grizzly, in a standing position and demonstrates a noble and honorable image of the university.
  • NJCAA officials renewed SMSU-WP’s contract to host the Division I Women's National Volleyball Tournament through the 2006 season.
  • Four former members of SMSU-WP' Grizzly Athletics teams were recognized and honored as the first Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame inductees Feb. 15 during a special ceremony at the West Plains Civic Center . Three of the four were members of the first ever Grizzly basketball and volleyball teams. Inductees were Ben Avery, Atlanta, Ga., Grizzly basketball player from 1993-1995; Chelsea Taylor Corp, Sparta, Mo., Grizzly volleyball player from 1993-1994; Quanna Speake Hafer, Columbia, Mo., Grizzly volleyball player from 1996-1997; and Donovan Brown, Baton Rouge, La., Grizzly basketball player from 1993-1995.
  • The SMSU-WP Lady Grizzlies won the Region 16 championship for the fourth year in a row and finished second in the 2002 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Volleyball Tournament. The second-place finish marks the best showing ever by the Lady Grizzlies’ in their five trips to the national tournament.
  • The Southwest Missouri State University – West Plains Lady Grizzly volleyball team was named one of the 2002-2003 Fall Academic Teams of the Year by the National Junior College Athletic Association. This is the first time the Lady Grizzlies have received this honor. The award is given to NJCAA fall sports teams for achieving academic excellence by maintaining a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The compiled grade point average for the team was 3.05.


  • The Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree program at Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains retained full accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission Inc. (NLNAC). The program is accredited for eight years through 2010, the maximum accreditation term provided by the NLNAC.
  • The SMSU-WP associate of arts degree program in China was approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. SMSU-WP is now accredited to offer the Associate of Arts in General Studies, with an emphasis in business, at the SMSU Branch Campus in Dalian, People’s Republic of China. The branch campus is located at Liaoning Teachers University (LTU) in Dalian.
  • Enrollment was up for the seventh consecutive year at SMSU-WP. Student enrollment reached an all-time high with 1,720 students. This figure includes students enrolled at SMSU-WP's extended campuses in Ava, Houston and Mtn. Grove, and in the campus' dual credit program at area high schools. When that figure is added to the 252 students enrolled in SMSU Missouri State Outreach classes, a total of 1,972 students are being served by the SMSU-WP campus.
  • For the seventh consecutive year, students at SMSU-WP have scored above the national average in all categories of the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency examination.
  • Grizzly basketball player Tevoris Thompson broke the NJCAA all-time record with 15 three point shots in the February 26, 2002, game against State Fair Community College. Thompson was voted “Player of the Year” in Region 16 and received honorable mention All-American recognition from the NJCAA.
  • Two members of this year’s women’s volleyball team, sophomore Edna Chumo and freshman Rose Obunaga, both from Nairobi , Kenya , were named first-team All-Americans by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). This was Chumo’s second consecutive selection for the first-team All-American squad and the first time two Lady Grizzlies have been selected to the first team in the same year.


  • SMSU-WP's first study abroad program was established with three students spending the fall semester at SMSU's branch campus at Liaoning Teachers University (LTU).
  • This year’s graduation ceremony included the first graduates from SMSU-Springfield’s Missouri State Outreach completion programs on the SMSU-WP campus.
  • The campus topped the 500 mark in summer session enrollment for the first time when a total of 511 signed up for classes.
  • This fall students began having access to affordable health care. A student-backed initiative led to the development of a health care services program funded with a health services fee approved by students.
  • The NJCAA Division I National Volleyball Tournament was held in West Plains for the first time. The SMSU-WP Grizzly Booster Club, the tournament’s official host, was awarded the bid last spring to host the annual three-day tournament for three years. The Lady Grizzlies finished 4th in the tournament.


  • More than 1,500 students enrolled at SMSU-WP. The official census was 1,525, making 2000 the year enrollment hit 1,500. In addition, 193 students were enrolled in SMSU’s degree completion programs.
  • Eighty-one students enrolled in courses being offered during the fall semester by SMSU-WP at SMSU’s branch campus at Liaoning Teachers University (LTU) in Dalian, China. Courses were offered for the first time this fall as part of an educational agreement signed in the summer by SMSU and LTU. The agreement is designed to lead to a cultural exchange between the two universities and promote understanding and friendship between the two countries.
  • SMSU-WP began offering courses at Houston High School in the spring and Ava High School in the fall. (The courses at Ava were discontinued in 2002 due to low enrollment.)
  • SMSU-WP offered its first online classes in the fall.
  • Nursing program graduates during the 2000 fiscal year recorded one of the highest pass ratings on the NCLEX licensure examination in the program’s history at 92.9 percent.
  • SMSU-WP was awarded a grant of approximately $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to purchase and install a new campus-wide information management system.


  • SMSU-WP received official notification of “continued accreditation” for the campus from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. SMSU-WP was granted continued accreditation to offer Associate degrees, with the next evaluation to take place in five years; the removal of all stipulations limiting what Associate degrees can be offered on the West Plains Campus; and the approval to offer the Associate of Arts degree at the Mountain Grove Extended Campus.
  • The Lady Grizzly Volleyball Team won its first National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 16 championship and made its first trip to the Division I National Tournament, where it finished eighth.
  • SMSU-WP celebrated the first ever Founder's Day on September 16. The event paid tribute to former Missouri State Representative Granvil Vaughan of West Plains, who, after extensive research, was named as Founder of SMSU-WP.


  • The Office of the Missouri Attorney General ruled SMSU-WP was eligible for reimbursement for the cost of tuition, books and fees under the A-Plus School program.
  • SMSU began offering Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs on the West Plains Campus. A total of 10 students enrolled in the programs in the first year.
  • Approximately 350 students and alumni participated in the first-ever Spring Job Fair and Career Day held at SMSU-WP.
  • The Missouri General Assembly approved a request for an additional $310,000 in the University’s base budget to implement University/Community Programs. SMSU-WP’s new U/CP department opened its doors during the fall semester.
  • The Grizzly Basketball Team won its first NJCAA Region 16 championship.


  • The GrizzNet regional interactive telecommunications network was established with two interactive video classrooms. The classrooms were located at Mountain Grove and West Plains high schools.


  • SMSU-WP saw an 80% increase in enrollment from the Fall of 1989, with 645 students, to the Fall of 1996, with 1,154 students.
  • For the first time, juniors and seniors at area high schools were able to enroll in college-level courses offered in their own high school by SMSU-WP. In the fall, 184 high schools students from seven area high schools enrolled in the dual credit program, which allows eligible students to take college courses for high school and college credit in classes taught on their high school campus.
  • The first computer course was taught at the SMSU-WP Extended Campus in Mtn. Grove in spring 1997.
  • The campus’ first homecoming celebration was held. The event included a reception for alumni, a Grizzly basketball game, a coronation ceremony crowning two SMSU-WP students King and Queen at the game’s halftime, and a post-game party for students and alumni.


  • The first Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees for SMSU-WP were established. The degrees were in Business, Paralegal Studies, Welding Technology, Drafting Technology, and Manufacturing Machine Technology.
  • The SMSU-WP Extended Campus at Mountain Grove was opened in time for Spring 1995 classes. Eleven courses were taught to approximately 60 students.
  • One hundred and nine students graduated, with 82 receiving Associate of Arts Degrees in General Studies and 27 receiving the Associate of Science Degree in Nursing from SMSU-WP.


  • NCA granted separate accreditation to SMSU-WP to offer the Associate of Arts in General Studies and the Associate of Science in Nursing degrees. The campus received the five-year maximum amount for initial accreditation.
  • SMSU-WP ADN graduates had a pass rate of 93.7%, which was among the highest pass rate of any program in the nation.


  • Both athletic teams took to the court for the first time, and both had winning seasons.
  • The Board of Regents passed a resolution allowing SMSU-WP to develop its own Faculty Senate and adopting an SMSU-WP mission statement, objectives, and philosophy.
  • More than 1,000 students enrolled at the SMSU-WP. The official census was 1,016, making 1993 the year enrollment hit 1,000.


  • The Grizzly Booster Club was formed to help raise scholarship funds for the campus’ new athletic program, which included men’s basketball and women’s volleyball. A cheer team was also formed to promote school spirit at athletic events.


  • SMSU-WP was granted an expanded mission statement by the Missouri General Assembly and the authority to offer degrees. The bill outlined SMSU-WP’s mission as a “teaching institution offering one-year certificates, two-year Associate degrees and credit and noncredit courses to both traditional and non-traditional students to meet the ongoing and emerging employer and educational needs of the citizens of the area served.”
  • The first SMSU graduation ceremony at West Plains was held in the Spring of 1991.


  • SMSU-WP nursing students ranked first in Missouri and fourth in the nation by the National Council Licensure Examination Summary Profiles.
  • The nursing program was accredited by the National League of Nursing.
  • SMSU-WP employed 18 full-time faculty serving 700 students.
  • SMSU-WP celebrated its 25th anniversary with a brunch honoring the founding fathers, a birthday party on the Central Campus in the afternoon and a dance at the Armory that evening.


  • NCA granted the SMSU-WP joint re-accreditation through 1995.
  • The Missouri State Board of Nursing granted the West Plains Campus’ ADN program full accreditation status with a five-year site approval.


  • The first computer lab, with 15 Apple computers, was opened.


  • The State Board of Nursing and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education approved an Associate of Science in Nursing Degree for the West Plains Campus.


  • The General Assembly passed a Permanent Status Bill (Senate Bill No. 25) which stated: “1. The Board of Regents of Southwest Missouri State University is authorized to continue the program of higher education at West Plains, Missouri, which was begun in 1963 and which shall be known as the West Plains Campus of Southwest Missouri State University. Southwest Missouri State University may include an appropriation request for the branch facility at West Plains in its operating budget.”


  • The SMSU Board of Regents changed the name from West Plains Residence Center to the West Plains Campus of SMSU (SMSU-WP).
  • The Coordinating Board for Higher Education authorized the West Plains Campus to award an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies.


  • Enrollment had quadrupled since the college’s inception in 1963 with 450 students.


  • The Missouri General Assembly designated the Residence Center as part of SMSU with funds appropriated by the state as part of and on the same budget basis as the funds allocated to the Springfield campus. This measure allowed for equal funding for the West Plains Campus on an annual basis.
  • The first West Plains Campus students received two-year business certificates from SMSU.


  • Bill No. 162 passed the Senate as well as the House, and the first state funding ($50,000 for operational expenses) was made available to the SMSU Residence Center at West Plains.


  • North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCA) granted the Residence Center joint accreditation with SMS. 


  • On July 5, 1963, the Board of Regents voted unanimously for Southwest Missouri State College (SMS) to establish a Residence Center at West Plains. The Center opened its door to 111 students on September 16, 1963.