Chapter I: University System and Mission


Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive university system with a mission in public affairs, whose purpose is to develop educated persons while achieving five goals: democratizing society, incubating new ideas, imagining Missouri’s future, making Missouri’s future, and modeling ethical and effective behavior.

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

The academic experience is grounded in a general education curriculum which draws heavily from the liberal arts and sciences. This foundation provides the basis for mastery of disciplinary and professional studies. It also provides essential forums in which students develop the capacity to make well-informed, independent critical judgments about the cultures, values, and institutions in society.

The task of developing educated persons obligates the University to expand the store of human understanding through research, scholarship and creative endeavor, and drawing from that store of understanding, to provide service to the communities that support it. In all of its programs, the University uses the most effective methods of discovering and imparting knowledge and the appropriate use of technology in support of these activities.

The University functions through a multi-campus system that is integrated to address the needs of its constituents.

Developing educated persons

Missouri State University’s purpose is "to develop educated persons." It is committed to the expansion and preservation of knowledge. It recognizes that curious people explore and push back 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 educated persons are readily assessable and recognizable:

  • They cultivate their aesthetic tastes
  • They are critical thinkers
  • They are serious readers who are broadly literate
  • They dedicate themselves to being curious and contributing citizens in an increasingly global society
  • They balance an in-depth mastery of at least one academic discipline with a broad appreciation of the liberal arts

Educated persons are developed through the interaction of competent, caring faculty and capable, motivated students. The University brings a distinguished faculty to this task. Multiple Fulbright Scholars, the co-founder of the Land Mine Survivors Network, the winner of a prestigious Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Artist at Giverny Program, a professor recognized as one of the 20 best young design faculty in the country, 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 provide examples of the quality and strength of the Missouri State faculty. The University will strive to increase the number of outstanding faculty by hiring and retaining faculty who are already distinguished in their professional work, and by developing and encouraging existing faculty toward distinction.

Missouri State 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 broader context in which the University is located is a natural setting for academic achievement. The institutional mission of public affairs and the themes of business and economic development; creative arts; health; professional education; science and the environment; and the human dimension 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 Missouri State University 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." Missouri State subscribes to this metropolitan university philosophy.

Special opportunities

Educated persons are developed in classrooms and laboratories. Educated persons also develop 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.

Debate, Marching Band, and Tent Theatre are a few examples of other University programs for students with special talents.

Intercollegiate athletics is another major educational activity at Missouri State University. In 1995 and again in 2003, the University completed the Self-Study Report for Certification by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and was certified by the NCAA. In the self-study and in actions taken subsequent to it, Missouri State reaffirmed its support for equity in men’s and women’s sports and the principles articulated in Title IX legislation. The University will strive to meet its Title IX goals and present an annual progress report to the Board of Governors.

These and many other educational activities teach students to manage their lives and to participate in society, both of which are important traits for an educated person. The University will continue to promote special events that increase the educational value of the overall Missouri State experience. Through these efforts, Missouri State 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 re-building homes through Habitat for Humanity or hurricane relief efforts, 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 Missouri State 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 opportunities are conducted under the supervision of faculty, and may lead to student presentations, performances, and/or publications. The University will expand opportunities for its students to engage in mentored and independent scholarship.

As a character-building institution, with national recognition from the Templeton Foundation and the Princeton Review’s Colleges with a Conscience, Missouri State encourages students to reflect on questions of personal values, identity, and ultimate meaning. Several activities promote such reflection and character development, including various religious activities offered by student organizations.

Developing educated persons is the purpose of the University. Its resources and efforts should be organized to achieve that end.

Missouri State University System

The Missouri State University campuses (see Chart I-A) are structured to address the special needs of the urban and rural populations they serve. Missouri State University-Springfield is a selective admissions, graduate level teaching and research institution. Missouri State University-West Plains is an open admissions campus serving seven counties in south central Missouri. Missouri State University-Mountain Grove serves Missouri’s fruit industry through operation of the State Fruit Experiment Station. The Extended Campus provides anytime, anyplace learning opportunities through telecourses, Internet-based instruction and through its interactive video network (BearNet). The University also operates various other special facilities, such as the Darr Agricultural Center in southwest Springfield, the Jordan Valley Innovation Center in downtown Springfield, the Bull Shoals Field Station near Forsyth, Baker’s Acres and Observatory near Marshfield, the Missouri State University Graduate Center in Joplin, and a branch campus at Liaoning Normal University (LNU) in Dalian, China. In addition, Missouri State has the operations and program offerings of one entire academic department, its Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, located near Washington, D.C. in Fairfax, Virginia.

Missouri State University-Springfield campus

The Missouri State University-Springfield Campus offers a spectrum of educational programs that respond to regional and statewide needs while striving for national and international excellence. Missouri State 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 collaborates with many communities and clientele throughout the region in order to bridge the socio-economic, cultural, and political gaps that exist among them. Missouri State continues to shape its structures and design its policies and practices to enhance its effectiveness as a key institution for the citizens of Missouri.

The Missouri State University-Springfield Campus offers baccalaureate, master’s, specialist in education, and professional doctorate degrees, and is the host site for a cooperative doctorate degree in educational leadership with the University of Missouri-Columbia. As of 2006, the Springfield Campus offered programs through 42 academic departments organized in six academic colleges. More than 140 academic programs and options are offered at the undergraduate level, leading to nine undergraduate degrees.

Chart I-A

Missouri State University System--Springfield, West Plains, Mountain Grove and Dalian

In the 1990s, mission enhancement funds were provided to Missouri State, enabling the institution to better serve the state’s need for a high-quality undergraduate/graduate institution. As a result, the Springfield Campus has become a major graduate education provider, offering 47 master’s degree programs and working with the University of Missouri to provide cooperative master’s and doctoral level programs. Graduate students comprise more than 16 percent of the campus’ total student population.

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

Missouri State University downtown

In 1996, 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 northwest of campus. That agreement, reflected in the Missouri State Master Plan Visioning Guide and the Vision 2020 Springfield-Greene County Comprehensive Plan, has resulted in the University acquiring and/or leasing increasing amounts of properties in the downtown area. The Missouri State University-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 Master Plan Visioning Guide.

The Missouri State University Foundation owns the 81,000-square-foot Kenneth E. Meyer Alumni Center and adjacent parking garage, and Missouri State owns the 62,500-square-foot Jim D. Morris Center for Continuing Education and two nearby surface parking lots. In addition, Missouri State leases approximately 60,000 square feet to support numerous programs, including the Institute for School Improvement and the Department of Art and Design.

The University will continue to invest in new and leased facilities directed by the following objectives:

  • To provide outstanding educational opportunities, 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 the University can expand as required while, at the same time, fulfilling its obligations outlined in the Phelps Grove agreement with the City of Springfield
  • To stimulate 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 long-term partnerships with the City of Springfield, the Springfield School District, Ozarks Technical Community College, and many public and private entities that have an impact on the development of Springfield and the region.

The University will continue to assess the feasibility/desirability of locating other 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 Missouri State intends to be an active partner in developing and revitalizing Springfield’s center city.

Jordan Valley Innovation Center

The University will continue to develop the Jordan Valley Innovation Center as a major advanced research and manufacturing center in downtown Springfield. The mission of JVIC is to develop new products, create jobs, and develop the educated workforce necessary to attract and retain advanced manufacturing and life sciences companies in Missouri.

A former MFA mill being renovated through a series of federal appropriations, the JVIC complex will have three major buildings:


  • Advanced Devices Research and Development Facility ($11.4 million, under construction)
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping Facility ($7.9 million, planned)
  • Biomedical Research and Manufacturing Facility ($14 million, planned)

It is anticipated that corporate tenants will invest an additional $3 million to $5 million in construction at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center.

As a Missouri Innovation Center, JVIC will develop and support advanced manufacturing and bio-technology in areas such as:

  • Medical instruments and materials
  • Bio-processing techniques and equipment
  • Agri-business research and development
  • Chemical and biological sensors and systems

William H. Darr Agricultural Center

Agriculture is a key economic component of the region. The food, fiber, and renewable resources that traditional agriculture provides are basics required for life. Missouri State’s metropolitan location and the Darr Agricultural Center provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate 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 agencies are valuable educational assets that allow Missouri State University students to participate in off-campus education activities such as field trips and internships.

The Darr Agricultural 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.

The University is improving the Center through renovation of existing facilities and development of new facilities. This includes the renovation of the arena located at the Center, as well as the addition of a stalling barn, and a multi-use barn. In addition, the University plans to build a learning/service building at the Center that will help serve 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, consumer studies, and youth development.

Missouri State University-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. The West Plains Campus has a separate five-year plan.

Missouri State University-West Plains is structured to meet the needs of a seven-county rural area of south central Missouri within the larger Springfield metropolitan region. Missouri State University-West Plains is mandated to offer one-year certificates, two-year associate degree programs, and credit and noncredit courses. Missouri State University-West Plains also hosts bachelor’s and master’s degree programs provided by the Springfield Campus through both on-site offerings and distance learning technologies.

The West Plains Campus has separate accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and currently offers three associate degrees – Associate of Arts in General Studies, Associate of Science in Nursing, and Associate of Applied Science – with approximately 30 emphases/areas of specialization. The campus is integral to 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.

Missouri State University-West Plains offers courses leading to the Associate of Arts in General Studies at Shannon Hall in Mountain Grove. Missouri State University-West Plains also provides educational opportunities via the BearNet interactive video network; university/community programs; and certificate programs, customized training programs, and noncredit outreach programs based on community needs.

Missouri State University-Mountain Grove campus

The major activities on the 190-acre Missouri State University-Mountain Grove Campus are the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, the Department of Agriculture (including Fruit Science), and the Center for Grapevine Technology.

The Fruit Experiment Station was established in 1899 by the Missouri Legislature. The Station has 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 basic and applied research and an industry advisory program focused on pomology, enology, viticulture, plant pathology, entomology, molecular genetics, and plant physiology.

Missouri State University-Mountain Grove supports a fruit industry advisory program, including fruit crops, grapes and wine, and consumer education. The advisory program uses traditional on-site advisory classes and workshops coupled with interactive video and Internet-based training.

In cooperation with the departments of Biology and Chemistry, the Department of Agriculture offers a cooperative master’s degree in plant science, as well as undergraduate internships and a limited number of undergraduate classes. The Paul Evans Library of Fruit Science supports the State Fruit Experiment Station, as well as the plant science master’s degree students and Missouri State University-West Plains students.

Extended campus programs

The Extended Campus Programs extend academic opportunities through off-campus programs and the use of distance learning technologies. The academic programs offered through the Extended Campus undergo the same academic review and scrutiny as academic programs offered in traditional settings.

The Extended Campus delivers high-quality, affordable educational services to learners anytime, anyplace. An array of distance learning technologies and delivery systems are available, including audioconferencing, radio, television (interactive video, telecourses, microwave), videocassette and CD programs, and synchronous and asynchronous computer conferencing.

 The distance learning strategy of the Extended Campus involves three major delivery systems: interactive video (BearNet), Internet-based instruction (Missouri State University Online), and telecourses (including interactive CD).

The primary audience for BearNet is the traditional 24-county service area of Missouri State. However, BearNet is a robust network that can link with sites from other states, as well as internationally. During the next five years, BearNet will continue to be used on all three Missouri State campuses. The need for "face-to-face" meetings involving small groups will be ongoing. Centralized scheduling of academic facilities will be key to efficient operations, with sharing of ITV rooms allowing these resources to be maximized.

Missouri State Online allows students to earn academic credit by taking courses entirely on the Internet. This approach enables students to study and participate in discussions, whenever and wherever they choose. In addition, Missouri State University offers the Missouri Virtual School for high school students statewide via Internet-based instruction. This 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 homes on their own schedules.

The Extended Campus provides the same level of support services that faculty and students receive with traditional courses. The Extended Campus has the administrative and technology infrastructure, faculty support, and student support services necessary to meet the needs of distance learning students.

Bull Shoals Field Station

The Bull Shoals Field Station provides 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 1999, exists through a cooperative agreement between Missouri State University and the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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

China campus

As one part of the attempt to internationalize its programs, the University began in 2000 to operate the Missouri State Branch Campus at Liaoning Normal University (LNU) in Dalian, China. An accredited two-year Associate of Arts degree is offered by the West Plains Campus and the Bachelor of Science in General Business is offered by the Springfield Campus. Additional Associate of Arts and completion programs in China will be established that are consistent with University priorities and opportunities.

Other campuses

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

System operation

System administration and coordination is the responsibility of the Missouri State University Administrative Council, which reports to the Board of Governors through the System President. The Council is responsible for developing administrative and support systems that ensure that the campuses operate cooperatively, efficiently, economically and without duplication. (See Charts I-B and I-C.)

The Administrative 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 I-B

Missouri State University System organizational chart

Missouri State Organization ChartD

Chart I-C

Office of the provost, Missouri State University-Springfield organizational chart

Organizational Chart for Provost D