Southwest Missouri State University's purpose is "to develop educated persons." It is thus committed to the search for knowledge. It recognizes that human curiosity explores the boundaries of the human intellect and the physical world. In an age where knowledge can become quickly dated, the university is committed to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge that serves the future. The characteristics of an educated person are clear, assessable, and recognizable:
- An educated person is someone who is literate in the broadest sense.
- An educated person has an appreciation of the responsibility of lifelong citizenship and an awareness of global issues.
- An educated person seeks solutions to problems by means of a broad base of knowledge as well as in-depth mastery of at least one specific academic discipline.
- An educated person has the skills and motivation to continue to learn after leaving the university, thus being prepared for both lifelong learning and lifelong productivity.
Academic and personal integrity are the foundation of meaningful educational experiences, and academic rigor is the price of worthy achievement in education. In the next six years, the university will implement and sustain a new student academic integrity policy to foster an improved climate of academic integrity. A 20-member student/faculty academic integrity council will be formed to facilitate broad campus participation in promoting academic integrity. The university is committed to developing educated persons by challenging them academically while nurturing them through the process of personal growth.
Educated persons are developed through the interaction of competent, caring faculty and capable, motivated students. The university brings a distinguished faculty to this task. The winner of a prestigious Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Artist at Giverny Program, an anthropologist who has received international acclaim for his work locating the Lost City of Ubar, a leading authority on U.S.-Asian relations, a Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Missouri Professor of the Year, and one of the top biblical scholars in the world illustrate the quality and strength of those who teach. The university will strive to increase the number of distinguished faculty by recruiting and hiring faculty who are already distinguished in their professional work, and by developing and encouraging existing faculty toward distinction.
SMSU also develops educated persons through the interaction between knowledgeable, caring faculty and staff academic advisors and their advisees. The university's dedication to excellent academic advising is demonstrated by the nationally recognized "Master Advisor" training program. More than 200 faculty and staff advisors have voluntarily participated in this intensive training program, with several being recognized at both the state and national levels for their advising.
The metropolitan context in which the university is located is a natural setting for academic achievement. The institutional mission of public affairs and the themes of professional education, health, business and economic development, creative arts, and science and the environment are the daily topics of this metropolitan conversation. The community itself is a laboratory where these themes are experienced and addressed.
The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, to which SMSU belongs, believes that metropolitan universities are "major intellectual resources for their metropolitan regions," whose programs "respond to regional needs while striving for national excellence." This Coalition has committed its institutions "to be responsive to the needs of our metropolitan areas by seeking new ways of using our human and physical resources to provide leadership in addressing metropolitan problems, through teaching, research, and professional service." SMSU subscribes to this metropolitan university philosophy.
An educated person is developed in classrooms and laboratories. An educated person also develops as the result of the entire university experience - participation in co-curricular activities; interaction with faculty, staff, and fellow students; service to the university community and the community at-large; and leadership in any number of organizations.
Residence hall life and fraternities and sororities add a richness to the university environment that contributes to the educated person. Such living groups provide leadership opportunities and provide a context for developmental conversations. Because of this, the university has been aggressive in providing positive living/learning units on campus.
Intercollegiate athletics is also a major educational activity at SMSU. In 1995, the university completed the Southwest Missouri State University Self-Study Report for Certification by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and adopted the self-study as a plan to guide development and administration of intercollegiate athletics. In the self-study, SMSU reaffirmed its support for equity in men's and women's sports and the principles articulated in Title IX legislation. The university will continue to strive to meet goals developed in that plan and will present an annual progress report to the SMSU Board of Governors.
These educational activities and many others teach students to manage their lives and to participate in society, both of which are important traits for an educated person. The university seeks excellence in each of these areas, as well as maximize the capacity to build community. The university will accomplish this, in part, by coordinating the scheduling and promotion of special events, and by consciously increasing the educational value of each event. Through these efforts, SMSU intends to make it clear to all constituencies that these activities are both an educational and a social good.
Community service projects, from serving as a tutor in the adult literacy program to building homes through Habitat for Humanity, provide unique opportunities for developing educated persons. For that reason, the university encourages students to be involved in the community.
Independent study, independent research, cooperative education programs, internships, practicums, faculty lectures and performances, and a host of other special activities are available to SMSU students. For example, most academic departments offer opportunities for students to participate in individualized research projects, library research on a specialized topic, creative artistic works, etc. These works are conducted under the supervision of faculty, and may lead to student presentations, performances, and/or publications.
As a character-building institution, with appropriate recognition from the Templeton Foundation, students are encouraged to actively participate in the religious activity of their choice.
Developing educated persons is the purpose of the university. Its resources and efforts are organized to achieve that end
This diagram depicts Southwest Missouri State University's philosophy of "developing educated persons." The student is at the center of this effort and general education is the academic foundation, providing the shared knowledge and the intellectual tools with which to explore the disciplines. The themes represent interactions among the disciplines. Public affairs, SMSU's statewide mission, provides the embracing framework for the total institutional effort.