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Missouri Western State University is a public university in Saint Joseph, Missourimarker. The school enrolls 5,470 undergraduate students and 65 graduate students.

Missouri Western is the home of the Griffons, who compete in 10 sports (Men's baseball, basketball, American football, golf; Women's basketball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball) as a NCAA Division II school. Missouri Western is a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Former Saint Joseph mayor Glenda Kelly, Missouri 28th District State Rep. Rob Schaaf, and Iowa State Universitymarker head football coach Paul Rhoads are among the school's distinguished alumni.


The university was founded in 1915 as a two-year institution called St. Joseph Junior College and held courses in the original location of Central High School at 13th and Patee. In 1933 when Central High School moved to its current location it relocated to the Robidoux Polytechnic High Schoolmarker building at 10th Street between Edmond and Charles. In 1917 it adopted the Griffon as its mascot.

The establishment of a four-year school was a central campaign issue in the 1964 Missouri Governor's race. Warren Hearnes from southeast Missouri who was challenging Hilary A. Bush who was from western Missouri for governor. Hearnes promised to transform the school into a four-year school despite the presence of another state school (Northwest Missouri State Universitymarker) less than 50 miles away in much smaller Maryville, Missourimarker.

Hearnes narrowly won the primary and then won general election. The college became a four-year school in 1969 during Hearnes second term.

School officials saying the four-college would never have occurred without Hearnes, named the school's library for him.

Northwest and Missouri Western now have an intense rivalry and jockey for funds. In 1988 Shalia Aery, commissioner of higher education under Governor John Ashcroft recommended Northwest should close and leave Missouri Western as the surviving school. That plan was ultimately dropped.

A 2005 plan called for Northwest to join the University of Missourimarker system while Missouri Western would change its name to Missouri Western State University to reflect its new Masters programs. The enabling legislation for Northwest to join the Missouri system expired and Missouri Western was allowed to begin its graduate program. The university hooded its first 12 master's degree recipients in May 2009.

The school's most visible corporate affiliation is with Hillyard, Inc., a cleaning supplies company that played an important role in the development of basketball. The school's Spratt Memorial Stadium is named for Elliot C. Spratt, an executive at the company. Leah Spratt Hall is named for a sister of Elliot. The school hosts the Hillyard Tip Off Basketball Classic tournament.


Missouri Western competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association and is in NCAA Division II. Its highest attended football games are in the Northwest Missouri-Missouri Western football rivalry.

Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp

The school is scheduled become the summer training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010. The $15.7 million facility is to be paid for by $10 million by the Chiefs (from state tax credits), $1.2 million from student fees at Missouri Western with the rest proposed to come from the City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County and private donations including the possibility of naming rights. It is to be designed by St. Joseph architect firm Ellison-Auxier architects, INC., which designed the school's Spratt Hall and clock tower.

A climate-controlled, 120-yard NFL regulation grass indoor field, and office space for the Chiefs will be constructed at Missouri Western.


  • M. O. Looney (1969-1983)
  • Janet Gorman Murphy (1983-2000)
  • James McCarthy (2000-2001)(interim)
  • James Scanlon (2001-2008)
  • Robert Vartabedian (2008-present)


  1. Robidoux School National Register of Historic Places application
  2. A History Of Missouri: Volume VI, 1953 to 2003 - Lawrence H. Larsen - University of Missouri Press (August 2004) ISBN 0826215467]
  3. Hearnes instrumental in Western’s BIRTH - August 18, 2009
  5. Inaugural master's students earn degrees at Western - St. Joseph News-Press - May 10, 2009
  6. Chiefs camp carries heftier price tag St. Joseph News-Press - January 16, 2009
  7. Western makes familiar firm choice for Chiefs training camp facilities - Griffon News - February 5, 2009

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