Fun Facts About Northwest

Have you ever wondered what all has happened at NWMSU before you enrolled or started working here? Well, this article will explore some past events, fun facts, and statistics and numbers about Northwest Missouri State University that you probably never knew.

Let’s start with some history.

  1. Northwest Missouri State University, originally Normal School, opened in 1905.
  2. In 1915, the first “Walkout Day” took place.
  3. The name of our mascot, the “Bearcat,” was given  to Northwest in 1916 by the Drury College basketball team in Springfield. They knew the  Maryville team as formidable opponents. It later became known that a bearcat was known for being difficult to capture and equally so to hold. However, the  Bearcat emblem did not make its first public appearance until Homecoming in 1947. 
  4. Mike the Dog, who was known as our first official and unofficial mascot, passed away in 1917 and is actually buried on campus, across the road from the Administration Building. 
  5. In 1927 the Theta Chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma became the first fraternity on campus.
  6. In 1938, Virginia Benitez, from Manila, Philippine Islands, was the first foreign-speaking student to graduate from Northwest.
  7. In 1950 the first shovel of dirt was moved for the Student Union by the student body president.
  8. In 1951 a residence hall was severely damaged by a gas tank explosion that killed student Roberta Steel. The hall was later rebuilt under the name Roberta Hall, in honor of Ms. Steel and now houses the various sororities on campus. The current hall is said to be haunted by the spirit of Roberta Steel and is mentioned in the book Haunted Missouri.
  9. Among other famous names to walk our halls, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Northwest in 1959.
  10. The B.D. Owens Library that we all visit  periodically (yeah, right) began construction  in the year 1981 along with the Ron Houston Center. Also in 1981, the world record for the largest domino chain was set by students at Northwest.
  11. Reverend Jesse Jackson gave a free speech to students here in 1995, and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson presented a lecture in 2010.
  12. Unfortunately Northwest has seen it’s fair share of disaster. In addition to the gas tank explosion in 1951, The TKE Fraternity house burned down due to an electrical fire in 1996, and the administration building has been struck by two acts of nature – a tornado in 1913 and a fire in 1979. There was also an explosion in the chemistry department in 1926 that cost over $10,000 to recover from.

In addition to the interesting history behind our university, below is a list of some fun facts about our institution.

  1. There actually used to be a bowling alley in the union!
  2. The bridge near Colden Hall is known as the “Kissing Bridge.”
  3. In 1959  Abraham Lincoln was shot in the Administration Building by a night watchman. (Don’t worry, it was just the statue!)
  4. Classes were once held in the Administration Building.
  5. There was  a statue of Hebe, the goddess of youth, in front of the Auditorium but it was knocked over and ruined.
  6. In January of 1912 classes were cancelled because of  a lack of coal. Similarly in 2011 campus closed for 3 days due to a blizzard.
  7. In 1974 a short-lived trend of streaking hit the Northwest campus.
  8. During the 1940’s Northwest helped support WWII by housing many Navy servicemen in its residential halls.
  9. The Northwest campus is Missouri’s official arboretum. It was designed to match the original design for Forest Park at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
  10. In 2010 Northwest head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football, was inducted into the Division II Football Hall of Fame.

Learn about the numbers and statistics that represent our university below.

  1. 90% of  first year students say that their experience has been either “good” or excellent.”
  2. 87% of seniors said that they would choose NWMSU again.
  3. The Delta Chi Fraternity’s Victorian Mansion is over 122 years old.
  4. This past fall, we represented 46 states and 29 countries with a population of 6831 students. The average class size is 27.
  5. Northwest offers 135 undergraduate programs and 36 master’s programs.
  6. In 1924 there were 17 student organizations on campus, 16,829 books in the library, and 400 women and 209 men enrolled at Northwest.
  7. In 2009 Bearcat head men’s basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer was recognized for achieving 400 career wins.
  8. There are approximately 150 student organizations at Northwest.
  9. Northwest’s main campus is 370 acres, the University Farm is 500 acres, and the Rural Lakefront is 315 acres.
  10. Northwest has a 57% graduation rate, which is 19% higher than the national average. 100% of classes are taught by professionals, not graduate assistants.

These facts, along with many, many others make up the amazing place that many of us have come to call a home. As some of these facts are just the “tip of the iceberg,” you can learn more by visiting the B.D. Owens Library, the Administration Building or the Northwest Missouri State website. Who knows what else you might uncover about our eventful university…

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