Community Leadership and Partnerships

Community engagement and investment help shape Springfield’s future

Missouri State University is inexorably linked to Springfield and southwest Missouri. Partnerships also extend far beyond the region into Missouri and beyond.

Downtown development/economic development

Missouri State has been a cornerstone of downtown revitalization and Springfield’s economic development. The university’s substantial investments in its downtown campus have spurred downtown’s growth into a community with places to live, work and play.

In 2004, Missouri State introduced the vision for IDEA Commons - an urban innovation park in downtown Springfield. It’s a collaborative community effort that brings together corporations, the university, residential lofts, nonprofits, and office and retail space. It’s a hub where people from all walks of life can live, shop, learn, create and work.

The university’s investment in downtown has served as a catalyst for vibrant growth. Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC), Brick City and the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center make up much of the core of the area.

Citizen Bears

In 2020, the efactory at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center helped more than 25 new businesses get started. They helped the companies create more than 280 new jobs and secure more than $17 million in capital and equity.

Student environment

Britany grew up in Maryland Heights, Missouri, and went to a diverse high school in the St. Louis area. Before she visited Missouri State University, she wasn’t sure she’d fit in at Missouri State because of the relatively small number of Black students compared to some other colleges she considered.

Community engagement is a core value

Community engagement is a core component of the university’s public affairs mission. From service-learning classes to internships and practicums to research and service projects, campus members partner with organizations, agencies and governments to improve communities.

Many of Missouri State’s academic programs are also linked to the community. Nursing students provide services at MSU Care - a primary care clinic for uninsured, low-income adults housed on the Missouri State campus. The sociology program focuses on community engagement. Students work with community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Salvation Army, AIDS Project of the Ozarks and many others. These are just a few examples of how academic programs are integrated into the community.

Missouri State students are engaged with the community through service-learning classes and community engagement projects.


Community engagement

In 2019-20 Missouri State offered 863 courses that involved service-learning. These classes combine academic achievement and work with a community learning site. Almost 6,400 students enrolled in those classes and they contributed more than 160,000 hours to the community.


Alicia grew up in Willow Springs, Missouri. She attended Missouri State University-West Plains and was the first person in her family to attend college.

Community partnerships

Faculty members have also been catalysts for community growth. They helped created The Fairbanks, the African American Heritage Trail, Springfield’s first Community Focus Report and the Rural Schools Partnerships, and so much more.

Missouri State faculty and staff are very involved in the community. They serve in local elected positions, partner with community organizations, and serve on the boards of businesses and nonprofit organizations. As community needs are identified, members of the university community step up to help address them.

Missouri State University has been an active partner with the city, chamber and other organizations to increase diversity in the community. Initiatives that started at the university – like the Facing Racism Institute – have expanded to help make the community and businesses more welcoming for diverse residents.

Faculty responsibilities

Service includes “consultations and applications of disciplinary knowledge and expertise to address the needs of professional organizations and public constituencies,” including the larger Springfield community.

Pursuing passion

Mason grew up in Springfield. As a child he was always singing. He was a good student and was involved in sports and school activities. He was in music classes at school and really enjoyed them but didn’t see music as a big part of his life.