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New MWSU president encouraging engagement with community

MWSU students took over downtown St. Joseph Thursday evening during the Griff Up event, a celebration on the start of another semester at the university, providing students the opportunity to learn more about downtown St. Joseph.

Posted: Aug 23, 2019 9:37 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo -- A new era at Missouri Western began Thursday evening with an event that didn't even happen on campus. Administrators say the first-ever Griff Up party in downtown St. Joseph was just the first step at bringing the university closer to the city it calls home.

Black and gold was all the rage in Felix St. Square.

"To see all the Griffon family, the faculty, the staff, the incoming students, even the current students coming down, it's amazing," said Marissa Steinel, associate director of admissions at MWSU.

It began with university president Matthew Wilson welcoming the students downtown along with a proclimation by St. Joseph mayor Bill McMurray designating August 22, 2019 as Griff Up day. McMurray himself is a graduate of Missouri Western.

 Wilson, in his first year as president, said the Griff Up event was just the first step in a larger-scale plan to get new and returning students off campus more and engaged in St. Joseph

"What you'll see over this next academic year is we're going to find different, creative and innovative ways to embed our students into the community and we're so excited about that," Wilson said.

For three new freshmen from Bowling Green, Missouri, this was their first exposure to downtown St. Joseph


"It's a very unique place, it's artsy," said Abi Jacyna.

"It's really nice. It has an old-time feel," added Kaitlyn Drury. 

Those two, along with a friend, were among many students who participated in a scavenger hunt planned as part of Griff Up. It required the students to go into many of the different downtown shops and learn more about what they have to offer.

For other students who may be more familiar with St. Joseph, they say they're excited about a stronger partnership between the university and the city.

"It's great to see so many people interacting," said Savannah freshman James Alberty.

While Griff up was all about having fun, event organizers say there is a higher purpose in getting the students involved in more off-campus activities.

"There is a lot of reseearch out there that shows if students get engaged on campus and in their community in the first six weeks, they're going to go on to graduation," Steinel said. "Obviously that's our end goal."

Griff Up is part of Griffon Edge, a series of planned activities for the students in the days before the fall semester starts. On Friday, many of the students will be out in the St. Joseph public schools reading to children.

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A rather potent winter storm is still on track to move into the area late Sunday and last through most of the day on Monday. Initially precipitation may fall as rain or a wintry mix of rain, sleet, or freezing rain, but by late Monday morning all precipitation should switch over to snow. Even before the heavy snow starts area roads within the watch may be slick due to the potential for off and on freezing rain. There will also be a very tight gradient between the highest snowfall amounts across far northern Missouri and very little snow, more toward the Highway 36 corridor and areas south of there.
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