Students at Missouri Western State University have a new place to gather on campus, thanks to the generosity of a local family. Kelley Commons, a beautiful outdoor patio just outside the Blum Student Union, will be dedicated at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24.

Kelley Commons features a large patio area with tables and chairs, a stage, a grassy area and large black and gold sails to provide shade. Inside the Blum Union, adjacent to the patio, is a new Java City, which was provided by Aramark Campus Dining. Java City will be giving out free samples before the dedication ceremony, from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

“The union is often seen as the living room on a campus, and we want Kelley Commons to be a welcoming space,” said Shana Meyer, vice president for student affairs. “We want it to be a place for students to congregate and visit with friends or work on class projects together. These spaces help build community, and that’s a lot of what Missouri Western is about.”

Kelley Commons is named for the Kelley family: parents Jean Kelley and the late James Kelley; children Jeanie Grahl ’72, Molly Pierce ’77 and Chris Kelley ’86 and his wife, Kelly. In 2007 the family donated the funds to create University Plaza, which includes the 10’ bronze Griffon statue and fountain near Kelley Commons.

“It was a natural extension of the plaza, and we are very happy with the results,” Pierce said.

“This is something my mother loves,” Grahl added. “And my father would have loved sitting on the patio watching students.”

The Kelley family donated most of the money for the project. The Student Government Association contributed furniture for the Kelley Commons and the Blum Union lobby, Aramark built the new coffee bar, and Zack Workman ’74, owner of Lawns Unlimited Inc., donated landscaping and dirt work for the new space.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit