University System and Mission

SMSU abridged mission statement

Southwest Missouri State University is a multi-campus metropolitan university system with a statewide mission in public affairs whose purpose is to develop educated persons while focusing on five themes: professional education, health, business and economic development, creative arts, and science and the environment.

The university's identity is distinguished by its statewide mission in public affairs, a campus-wide commitment to foster competence and responsibility in the common vocation of citizenship.

Further, the academic experience is grounded in a focused general education curriculum which draws heavily from the liberal arts and sciences. This foundation provides the basis for successful mastery of focused disciplinary and professional studies, as well as enabling critical, independent intellectual judgment on the culture, values, and institutions of the larger society.

The university understands its task of developing educated persons to include adding to the store of human understanding through research, scholarship and creative endeavor, and drawing from that store of understanding to provide service to both the local and professional community that supports it. In all of its programs, both undergraduate and graduate, the university is committed to using the most effective and regularly evaluated methods of discovering and imparting knowledge and to the appropriate use of technology in support of these activities.

The university functions through a multi-campus system structured to complement one another and to address the needs of the metropolitan area they jointly serve.

SMSU System

SMSU campuses are structured to address the special needs of the urban and rural populations they serve. SMSU-Springfield is a selective admissions, master's level teaching and research institution. SMSU-West Plains is an open admissions campus serving seven counties in south central Missouri. SMSU-Mountain Grove serves Missouri's fruit industry through operation of the State Fruit Experiment Station. The SMSU-Extended Campus provides anytime, anyplace learning opportunities through telecourses, Internet-based instruction and through its interactive video network (BearNet) and subnetworks (GrizzNet and VineNet). In addition, the university operates several special campuses to meet the needs of Missourians and SMSU students. The university also operates the Bull Shoals Field Station near Forsyth, Baker's Acres and Observatory near Marshfield, and the SMSU Graduate Center in Joplin.

Springfield campus

The SMSU-Springfield Campus is oriented toward and identifies with its region, proudly and by deliberate design. University programs respond to regional needs while striving for national and international excellence. SMSU is an intellectual and creative resource for the Springfield metropolitan area, contributing to its economic development, social health, and cultural vitality through education, research, and professional outreach. The university is committed to collaborate and cooperate with the many communities and clienteles in the metropolitan region and to help bridge the socio-economic, cultural, and political gaps that exist among them. SMSU continues to shape and adapt its structures, policies, and practices to enhance its effectiveness as a key institution in the lives of citizens in the Springfield region.

The central campus of SMSU in Springfield is a comprehensive, master's level, selective admissions campus with a statewide mission in public affairs. The campus offers baccalaureate, master's, and specialist in education degrees, and is the host site for a cooperative doctorate degree in educational leadership with the University of Missouri-Columbia. As of the fall 1999, the Springfield Campus offered programs through 42 academic departments organized in nine colleges. More than 140 academic programs and options are offered at the undergraduate level, leading to eight undergraduate degrees.

Chart A

SMSU-Mountain Grove Campus SMSU-West Plains Campus Bull Shoals Field Station SMSU-Springfield CampusChart showing MSU campus areas.D

In 1995, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education designated Southwest Missouri State University as a graduate level, selective admissions institution with a statewide mission in public affairs providing programmatic access to southwest Missouri. Mission enhancement funds were provided to SMSU enabling the institution to begin serving the state's need for a high quality undergraduate/graduate institution. Subsequent actions by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education have positioned SMSU as the public higher education provider of graduate programs in southwest Missouri. As a result, the Springfield Campus has become the major graduate education provider, offering 39 master's degree programs and working with the University of Missouri System to provide other cooperative master's and doctoral level programs as required and appropriate. Graduate students make up more than 16 percent of the campus's total student population.

Even with these changes, undergraduate education remains a priority, and implementation of selective admissions standards have been and will continue to be made, with a sensitivity to the needs of the 24-county service area.

The Springfield Campus also supports a number of programs and facilities in downtown Springfield as well as the Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center in southwest Springfield.

SMSU downtown

In 1996, Southwest Missouri State University and Springfield entered into an agreement to direct future university expansion away from neighborhoods, such as Phelps Grove to the south of campus, and toward the downtown area located northwest of campus. That agreement, reflected in both the SMSU Master Plan Visioning Guide and the Vision 2020 Springfield-Greene County Comprehensive Plan, has led the university to assess the desirability/feasibility of acquiring and/or leasing properties in the downtown area for future growth. The SMSU-Springfield Master Plan Visioning Guide has been formally adopted by the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission and the Springfield City Council. To ensure orderly development in the downtown area, the university has added a downtown planning element to its SMSU Master Plan Visioning Guide.

The university operates from a mix of owned and leased space in downtown Springfield. The SMSU Foundation owns the 81,000-square-foot Alumni Center and adjacent parking garage, and SMSU owns the 62,500-square-foot Jim D. Morris Center for Continuing Education and two nearby surface parking lots. The university and the SMSU Foundation have invested heavily in infrastructure to support these facilities and to link them to the central campus. In addition, SMSU is leasing approximately 60,000 square feet to support numerous university programs, including the Institute for School Improvement and the department of art and design.

Generally, SMSU downtown activities and facilities will be located along the Jefferson Avenue corridor. The university will continue to make strategic investments in new and leased facilities based on demonstrated need and as directed by the following objectives:

  • to provide metropolitan education opportunities for SMSU students, specifically with regard to metropolitan issues, service learning, and public affairs
  • to provide affordable, high-quality space for academic and auxiliary programs
  • to ensure that SMSU is able to expand as required while, at the same time, fulfilling its obligations as outlined in the Phelps Grove agreement with the City of Springfield
  • to serve as a stimulus for the revitalization of downtown Springfield
  • to fulfill the university's metropolitan mission of contributing to the economic development, social health, and cultural vitality of the region

These objectives are based in large part on a workable, affordable, long-term partnership with the City of Springfield, the Springfield School District, Ozarks Technical Community College, and the many public and private entities that have an impact on the development of downtown Springfield.

In accord with the five objectives, the university will continue to assess the feasibility/desirability of locating other university programs in downtown Springfield, as well as the possibility of expanding programs already located downtown. Further, the university shares the community's vision of downtown Springfield as an arts, entertainment and education center, and SMSU intends to be an active corporate partner in developing and revitalizing Springfield's center city area.

Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center

SMSU's department of agriculture supports the university's statewide mission in public affairs, as well as three of the university's five themes: business and economic development, professional education, and science and the environment. The SMSU Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center, located on a 125-acre site in southwest Springfield, is a unique and valuable asset that supports the department of agriculture's many and diverse programs.

Agriculture is a key economic component of the SMSU 24-county service region. The food, fiber and renewable resources traditional agriculture provides are basics required for life. SMSU's metropolitan location and the Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate to students the interactions between traditional agriculture's rural origin and the more urban setting of modern America. Springfield is home to significant agricultural businesses and government agencies that provide trade and service centers for producers, manufacturers, and consumers. These businesses and government agencies are valuable educational assets that allow SMSU students to participate in off-campus education activities such as field trips and internships. Together, the metropolitan location and the Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center provide students with access to numerous off-campus learning experiences while encouraging participation of business, industry, government and the general public in the educational process.

The agricultural programs in vegetable production, landscaping, and greenhouse plant production are vibrant in the metropolitan area. Animal husbandry concepts taught to satisfy requirements for students entering the workforce in the meat industry are being transferred to the knowledge that is required in the pet, exotic, and zoo animal industry. The equine industry, a traditionally rural enterprise, has become largely a metropolitan one for recreation or for therapeutic health purposes. Further, metropolitan areas place demands on the environment for activities such as outdoor recreation and waste management. These sensitive environmental activities can be aided by the use of traditional soil and crop management principles taught in agriculture to protect water quality and wildlife populations and habitats.

The Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center serves as a laboratory and field experience classroom for the study of livestock management, equine studies, horticulture, agronomy, animal science and wildlife conservation and management. An additional benefit of the center is that it provides agricultural/green space within the rapidly expanding Springfield metropolitan area. Coupled with nearby city and county parks, the center provides a valuable green space amenity.

The university will improve the center through the renovation of existing facilities and development of new facilities as required. This includes the renovation of the arena located at the center, as well as the addition of support facilities including a stalling barn, a multi-use barn, and a machine storage building. In addition, the university will work with a number of partners to build a learning/service building at the center. The learning/service facility will provide for the citizens of Greene County and the surrounding area a one-stop service facility which will meet the educational, technical assistance and customer service needs for the following components of the community: agriculture, continuing education, community development, business and industry, human-environmental sciences, horticulture and youth development. Partners in the facility include Southwest Missouri State University, the Greene County University of Missouri Outreach and Extension, and various agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture.

SMSU-West Plains campus

The West Plains Campus is a two-year open admissions campus with a mission to provide quality educational opportunities to south central Missouri.

Specifically, SMSU-West Plains is structured to meet the needs of a seven-county rural area of south central Missouri within the larger Springfield metropolitan region. SMSU-West Plains is mandated by state statute to offer one-year certificates, two-year associate degree programs, and credit and non-credit courses. SMSU-West Plains is a host site for bachelor's and master's degree programs provided by the Springfield Campus through both on-site offerings and substantial use of distance learning technologies.

The West Plains Campus has separate accreditation through the North Central Association and currently offers three associate degrees - Associate of Arts in General Studies, the Associate of Science in Nursing, and the Associate of Applied Science - with 28 emphases/areas of specialization. The campus plays an integral role in the successful implementation of the overall System mission, serves as one major feeder for the Springfield Campus, and provides a site for the Springfield Campus to offer upper level and graduate programs.

Consistent with its mandated mission, SMSU-West Plains provides educational opportunities via the GrizzNet, a subnetwork of the BearNet interactive video network; a mobile computer laboratory; university/community programs; and certificate programs, customized training programs, and non-credit outreach programs based on community needs.

SMSU-Mountain Grove campus

The major activities on the 190-acre SMSU-Mountain Grove Campus are the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, the department of fruit science, and the Midwest Viticulture and Enology Center.

The Fruit Experiment Station was established in 1899 by an act of the Missouri Legislature. The legislature mandated that the station have a statewide mission to: "...experiment with the different kinds of fruits, to wit: Apples, peaches, berries of all kinds, grapes and small fruits of all kinds, and to ascertain the varieties that are the best adapted to this state..." The Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station promotes growth of the Missouri fruit crop industry through a long-term program of basic and applied research and an industry advisory program. Research, both basic and applied, is focused on pomology, enology, viticulture, plant pathology, entomology, molecular genetics and plant physiology.

The Midwest Viticulture and Enology Center (MVEC) is dedicated to improving product quality and profitability of the grape and wine industry through research, advisement, education and service. Goals of the Center include the development of an interstate research consortium and the coordination of cooperative advisory and educational programs to better serve the industry throughout the Midwest.

In addition to its research mission, SMSU-Mountain Grove supports a major fruit industry advisory program, including fruit crops, grapes and wine, and consumer education. The advisory program is accomplished through traditional on-site advisory classes and workshops coupled with interactive video and Internet based training. Interactive video training and education services are provided through VineNet, a subnetwork of the SMSU-Extended Campus's interactive video network BearNet. Additional training is provided through Internet based online workshops.

In cooperation with the departments of agriculture, biology and chemistry, the department of fruit science at the SMSU-Mountain Grove Campus offers classes and research as part of a cooperative master's degree in plant science, as well as a variety of undergraduate internships and a limited number of undergraduate classes. In addition, SMSU-Mountain Grove serves as an extended campus for SMSU-West Plains to offer courses leading to the Associate of Arts in General Studies degree to residents of the Mountain Grove area. The Paul Evans Library of Fruit Science supports the State Fruit Experiment Station, as well as the plant science master's degree students and SMSU-West Plains students. Other educational opportunities available at the campus include a variety of undergraduate and graduate classes offered by SMSU-Springfield through BearNet.

SMSU-Extended campus

The SMSU-Extended Campus is the term used to describe SMSU's commitment to provide anytime, anyplace learning opportunities. The Extended Campus provides a logical extension of the university's existing academic programs through distance learning technologies. The academic programs offered using distance learning have undergone the same academic review and scrutiny as academic programs offered on the traditional campuses.

The mission of the Extended Campus is to deliver high-quality, affordable educational services to learners anytime, anyplace. An array of distance learning technologies and delivery systems are available for use, including audioconferencing, radio, television (interactive video, telecourses, microwave), satellite transmission, audiocassette and videocassette programs, and a variety of computer-based systems, including synchronous and asynchronous computer conferencing.

The distance learning strategy of the Extended Campus centers about three major delivery systems: interactive video (BearNet and its subnets, GrizzNet and VineNet), Internet-based instruction (SMSU Online), and telecourses.

BearNet is an interactive video network. The primary audience for BearNet is the traditional 24-county service area of SMSU. However, BearNet is a robust and flexible network as demonstrated by its ability to support specialized subnetworks (such as GrizzNet) and to link with classroom sites from other states, as well as internationally.

The second major component of the Extended Campus is SMSU Online, which allows students to earn academic credit by taking courses entirely on the Internet. A major feature of Internet-based instruction is that it can be asynchronous, meaning that students can access their courses anytime and anyplace via the Internet. This student-centered approach enables students to study and participate in discussions, whenever and wherever they choose. In addition, SMSU is offering a "virtual high school" program, eHighSchool, via SMSU Online. The high school program focuses on science, math, and foreign languages.

The third major delivery system, telecourses, provides learners with the opportunity to take classes within their own home according to their own schedule (for example, by tape delay using VCRs).

The SMSU-Extended Campus provides the same level of support services that faculty and students receive at the other System campuses. The Extended Campus has the administrative infrastructure (guidelines and policies for instruction), technology infrastructure (Internet access, computing/networking standards, help-desk services), faculty support (including access to and training in a variety of instructional media, library and other required resources), and student support services (advising, placement testing, library support, technical support, tutorial assistance in writing) necessary to meet the needs of distance learning students.


During the next six years, SMSU's existing ITV networks, BearNet and its subnets, will migrate to an alternate delivery method, but the associated ITV rooms, while not increasing much, if any, will continue to be used on all three SMSU campuses for a variety of purposes. The need for "face-to-face" meetings involving small groups on one or both ends of the transmission will be an ongoing need. The infrastructure and delivery method will change considerably over the next six years from expensive circuit-based delivery to inexpensive Internet-based delivery. The quality of Internet-based delivery will continue to improve. Expanded bandwidth of the Internet and on-campus networks will allow significant growth to occur via streaming media to the "desktop." These systems will allow connections to other "desktop" units or ITV rooms at SMSU and beyond.

Centralized scheduling of facilities will be key to efficient operations, with sharing of ITV rooms allowing these resources to be maximized.

Bull Shoals Field Station

The primary purpose of the Bull Shoals Field Station is to address SMSU's theme in science and the environment by providing a location for faculty, students, and visiting scientists to conduct research and educational programs that promote understanding of southwest Missouri ecosystems. The Station, which began operations in spring 1999, exists through a cooperative agreement between SMSU and the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps owns the five acres of land SMSU occupies and the Department of Conservation has provided the university access to 5,600 acres of land at the Drury-Mince Wildlife Area.

The Bull Shoals Field Station affords excellent opportunities for student and faculty research, field courses, and public service. Research at the Field Station will provide answers to questions about organisms in their native habitats and solutions to problems resulting from the rapidly changing environment of the Ozarks region.

Other campuses

In addition to expanding its capability of delivering telecommunications-based education, Southwest Missouri State University will assess the desirability and feasibility of opening new education centers and campuses based on demonstrated need. These centers and/or campuses could be local — i.e., within the university's historic 24-county service in southwest Missouri — or they could be international.

System operation

System administration and coordination is the responsibility of the SMSU System Coordinating Council which reports to the Board of Governors through the System president. The Council, composed of representatives from all campuses, is responsible for developing administrative and support systems necessary to ensure that the campuses operate cooperatively, efficiently, economically and without duplication.

The SMSU System Coordinating Council provides effective administration of the system while requiring minimal administrative overhead. No positions have been or will be added for System purposes. And the responsibility for academic programs remains with the faculty and accepted review and approval procedures.

Chart B: Southwest Missouri State University System

Organization Chart of SMSU System.D

Chart C: Academic affairs SMSU-Springfield

Chart showing the organization of Academic Affairs at SMSU.D