March 18, 2020–Because of ongoing concerns about COVID-19, Missouri Western State University will shift its delivery approach to education this semester and provide students with alternative methods for learning course material and earning credit for the remainder of the spring semester. 

“Missouri Western is unique in terms of our mission and student body,” said President Matt Wilson in a statement to campus Wednesday. “As an open access institution, some of our students do not have adequate access to technology or Internet services. Because of this ‘digital divide’ we are concerned about student success in a 100% online model. Many students have expressed serious reservations about their ability to learn in an online setting. Others are very anxious about being able to focus in the current environment of flux that may involve employment challenges, childcare issues, illness and even self-quarantine. For these reasons, we are not going to make an attempt to hastily shift all courses to an all-online model.”

Wilson said Missouri Western’s statewide mission of applied learning and quality practical education further complicates efforts to take instruction completely online in all programs. In-person learning opportunities like science labs, practicums, internships, performing arts, visual arts and others are especially challenging in an online environment.   

In consultation with administration and faculty leadership, Missouri Western is asking faculty to offer two methods of alternative course delivery: supplemental materials to cover course content for the remainder of the semester, and a spring semester “capstone” experience that will provide students with an opportunity to learn more and prepare for future courses and work opportunities. Such capstone experiences may include an exam, a research paper, simulation, video presentation, executive summary, a PowerPoint presentation, a business plan or a work of art among many other options. Wilson noted his excitement to tap into the “creativity, abilities, innovative spirit and dedication of Missouri Western’s faculty.” Students will have until the end of the semester on Friday, April 24 to complete their capstone experiences. 

“We believe our approach to this unprecedented situation will provide students with maximum flexibility while continuing to provide a quality educational opportunity,” said Dr. Douglas Davenport, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Residence halls will remain open for students who need them, but most students are asked to stay at or return to their permanent residence. Students who don’t return to the residence halls will receive prorated credit on their Missouri Western account that can be used for summer tuition, fall tuition or fall housing. Graduating seniors will be issued a refund for the prorated amount.

Because of requests from city, state and federal authorities to limit large gatherings for eight weeks, the spring commencement ceremony scheduled for May 2 and all other graduation-related events have been suspended. We will celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020, as soon as it is safe to do so. 

“There is nothing we want more than to welcome our students back to campus and have everything return back to normal,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately, that is not the situation we find ourselves facing. As we look ahead, I am confident we can rise to the occasion and emerge stronger as a Griffon family.”

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. 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