“It’s my mission to help the world discover the magic that we have here at Missouri Western. We truly have the opportunity to come together and to innovate, to be creative, and to have approaches that are going to impact and benefit our students.”
Those were the words of Matt Wilson on the day he was introduced to Missouri Western and the community as University president. Since he began his presidential duties on July 1, 2019, he has held to that promise, bringing innovative and creative initiatives that benefit the students and help them succeed.
Griffon Guarantee Scholarship
For students entering in the fall of 2020, the University has launched the Griffon Guarantee Scholarship, a new scholarship program for freshmen and transfer students that automatically renews and increases in value each year so long as students remain in good standing.
The Griffon Guarantee Scholarship differs from previous Missouri Western programs and from scholarships at other institutions in two distinct ways. First, the annual scholarship renewal is guaranteed for students who remain in good academic standing (minimum 2.0 GPA); and second, recipients will receive an additional $1,000 at the 30-credit mark, an additional $500 at the 60-credit mark, and an additional $500 at the 90-credit mark. That means recipients will receive $2,000 more in their fourth year of school than they did in the first year.
The base first-year award for the Griffon Guarantee Scholarship will range from $500 to $6,500 for incoming freshmen and $500 to $1,500 for transfer students. With the automatic renewal and upgrades, the scholarship will provide students up to $4,500 in additional aid over the course of eight semesters.
To qualify, incoming freshmen must have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 and ACT score of at least 19. Students with a lower ACT score may be eligible depending on their GPA. Transfer students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and at least 12 credit hours will qualify for the Griffon Guarantee Scholarship.
“The program invests in our students in two innovative ways not typically seen at other universities,” President Wilson said. “Not only will the Griffon Guarantee Scholarship encourage academic progress toward graduation by rewarding students with automatic scholarship increases, but it will also protect students who may experience an unexpected or temporary drop in grades caused by a tough transition to college or unexpected circumstances.”
Go to missouriwestern.edu/finaid/griff-guarantee for more information.
In October 2019, Missouri Western announced Gold Fridays. Beginning the fall of 2020, the majority of classes will be offered Monday through Thursday, and Fridays will be dedicated to applied learning and other opportunities.
The program leaves Fridays open for students to engage in internships, research, community service, meeting with professors, tutoring, study time or whatever the student chooses. Gold Fridays will also be a benefit to students who commute since it could mean one less day on the road, as well as to athletes who often travel for competitions over the weekends.
“It’s an innovative and unique program that combines applied learning and affordable education, and it helps meet the region’s workforce needs,” President Wilson said. “Fridays can be devoted to student service and success.”
He noted that Gold Fridays will not change the total minutes for each course, the number of courses offered or the number of students on campus. While a four-day schedule may not be appropriate for every program, he said most academic programs will be adapted.
“No classes on Fridays frees up an entire day for flexible learning opportunities. Students will have the opportunity to apply what they are learning in meaningful ways. On Gold Fridays, they’ll have an opportunity they won’t find at any other Missouri university.”
More details are available at missouriwestern.edu/goldfridays.
Center for Service
Beginning in the fall of 2020, following a pilot this spring, students will be able to earn credit toward their degree by volunteering in the community, thanks to the new Center for Service on campus. Dr. Melody Smith has been named executive director of the Center.
Students may earn one elective credit for Community Service Learning toward their degree for every 40 hours of validated community service they engage in, up to a maximum of three credits. Those credits will be free of charge to the students and funded, in full or part, by sponsors of the Center.
“Service is at the very core of our mission at Missouri Western,” said President Wilson. “We don’t just want to provide students with opportunities to serve; we want to provide them with an incentive to serve. Hundreds of students serving thousands of hours each school year will be transformative for our University and for our community.”
In addition to administering community service learning opportunities for individual students and student groups, the Center for Service will also include a new Center for Military and Veteran Services. This Center will provide academic and financial aid advisement, along with other dedicated wraparound services, for military-connected students.
The Center will also serve as “front door” for Missouri Western, providing a first point of contact for visitors and students to guide them where they want to go.
In December, Missouri Western took the first step toward launching its new esports programs, announcing that Christian Konczal was hired as the program’s first director/head coach.
Konczal had been serving as an adjunct professor at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont and as event staff for the University of Akron Zips Esports in Ohio. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Emergent Media from Champlain and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Vermont.
“The addition of esports provides students the opportunity to come together and collaborate in a team setting, providing not only recreational opportunities but academic opportunities in a variety of fields,” said President Wilson. “Christian is familiar with both the operational and academic sides of esports, and I’m confident he will build an outstanding program that will attract top students and help them develop the critical skills of leadership, communication, team-building and collaboration.”
Esports is organized team-based, multiplayer competitive video gaming. Competitions among collegiate teams and professionals can take place in arenas in front of large audiences and are streamed on the internet or broadcast on television. Collegiate esports is growing, with more than 130 universities nationwide with competitive varsity teams, including 16 in Missouri. Missouri Western will be just the third public university in the state with an esports team.
Konczal will be responsible for building Griffon Esports from the ground up, recruiting varsity and club teams to compete in a variety of video games to be determined by student interest. The program will be structured much like traditional varsity athletics, with team members participating in tryouts, wearing uniforms, maintaining practice schedules and adhering to a code of conduct and academic standards.
It was also announced that an esports arena will be built in the student union where the Barnes & Noble Bookstore currently resides.
For more information, visit missouriwestern.edu/esports.
“Together we can reach new heights in academics, arts and athletics,” President Wilson said. “We can teach our students how to communicate effectively, how to think critically, how to lead, how to innovate, how to be entrepreneurial and how to celebrate differences. We can open minds, we can open eyes and we can open hearts.”