|Motto||Everything is Possible|
|Students||5,413 (Fall 2019)|
|Undergraduates||5,145 (September 2016)|
|Postgraduates||243 (September 2016)|
|Campus||Urban, 744 acres (301.1 ha)|
|Colors||Black and Gold|
|NCAA Division II - MIAA|
|Mascot||Max the Griffon|
Missouri Western State 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 the junior college relocated to the Robidoux Polytechnic High School 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 Democratic gubernatorial primary, when Warren Hearnes of the Bootheel challenged Hilary A. Bush of Kansas City. Hearnes promised to transform the school into a four-year institution despite the presence of another state university (Northwest Missouri State University) 40 miles (64 km) to the north in Maryville.
Hearnes narrowly won the primary and then won general election. A year later, the college became Missouri Western Junior College, and was transferred from the St. Joseph School District to the Missouri Western Junior College District, comprising 11 school districts in five counties. The college was granted four-year status as Missouri Western College in 1969 during Hearnes' second term. The Missouri Western Junior College district funded the first two years, with the state funding the final two years.
Years later, Missouri Western named its library after Hearnes; school officials said Missouri Western would have never become a four-year college without him.
Shortly after the conversion, the school acquired the farm of St. Joseph State Hospital #2, on the east side of Interstate 29, for its campus on the east edge of St. Joseph. The original plan had called for it to be built across from the hospital, just west of Bishop LeBlond High School and closer to downtown St. Joseph.
The school became Missouri Western State College in 1973, and became fully supported by the state in 1977. It was granted university status in 2005, and began offering graduate degrees in 2007.
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.
Legislation in 2005 changed the institution's name to Missouri Western State University. That legislation designated Missouri Western as Missouri's Applied Learning Institution and allowed it to grant master's degrees. The university hooded its first 12 master's degree recipients in May 2009. In its first six years offering graduate degrees, graduate enrollment at Western has grown by 100% or more each year. As of 2016, Western offers 18 master's degrees and six graduate certificates.
As of April 2020, the school will be phasing out or radically revising nearly 100 of its degree offerings. These changes are a response to years of "downward student enrollment trends, strained state funding resources, rising costs, deferred maintenance needs, long-term debt [and] now the economic impact of covid-19".
The university's most visible corporate affiliation is with Hillyard, Inc., a cleaning supplies company. The school's Spratt Memorial Stadium is named for Elliot "Bub" Spratt, an executive at the company. Leah Spratt Hall is named for a sister of Elliot. The university hosts the Hillyard Tip Off Basketball Classic tournament.
The main buildings of Missouri Western State University are all dedicated to someone who is an important part in MWSU's history.
|Agenstein Hall||Math and Science Departments|
|Student Fitness Center|
|Blum Union||Bookstore, Dining (Aramark), Center for Multiculture Education, Center for Student Engagement, Health Center, Campus Police|
|Eder Hall||Admissions, Department of English and Modern Languages, Financial Aid, Student Affairs|
|Fulkerson Center||Conference rooms|
|Griffon Indoor Sports Complex||Athletic training facility, coaches' offices|
|Hearnes Center||Library, Center for Academic Support, Information Technology Services, Instructional Media Center|
|Looney Complex||Athletics Department, (HPER)–Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Services|
|Missouri Department of Conservation, Biology department|
|Murphy Hall||Communication and Journalism; Education; Nursing and Allied Health; Psychology|
|Popplewell Hall||Administrative building, Stephen L. Craig School of Business, College of Professional Studies; Department of History, Philosophy, and Geography, Department of Economics, Political Science, & Sociology.|
|Potter Hall||Art and Music Departments|
|Remington Hall||Math and Science Departments|
|Spratt Hall||Advancement offices, Alumni Relations, Foundation, Public Relations, Walter Cronkite Memorial|
|Wilson Hall||Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, Social Work, Engineering Technology, Military Science, and Law Enforcement Academy|
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Track and field+||Softball|
|Track and field+|
|+ - Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
Missouri Western is the home of the Griffons. MWSU competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and is in NCAA Division II. Its highest attended football games are in the Missouri Western-Northwest Missouri State football rivalry. Beginning in the fall of 2017, Missouri Western will add six new sports offering a total of 16 sports.
The school has been the summer training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2010. The $15.7 million facility was paid for by $10 million from the Chiefs (from state tax credits) and $1.2 million from student fees at Missouri Western, with the rest coming from the City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County and private donations. It was 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, with a locker room, weight room, training room, classrooms and office space was completed in the summer of 2010.
The National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse was created using National Science Foundation funds. The Clearinghouse is an online repository where undergraduates in STEM fields can post articles subject to faculty approval (rather than a formal peer review). The site has been online since 1997 and has been featured in magazines such as Science and Nature. Articles from the Clearinghouse have been used as resources for journalists at publications including the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News.