As a historic land grant university with a rich history, the University of Missouri’s 2013 total fall enrollment of 34,658 included students from across the country and world. MU is home to the world’s first journalism school, which began in 1908, and now has 280 degree programs. Additionally, MU is one of only five universities nationwide with law, medicine, veterinary medicine and a nuclear research reactor on one campus — making MU measure up by any standard. When students come to Columbia, Mo., they recognize MU is much more than 34,658 students and an elite learning institution.
While attending the oldest public university west of the Mississippi River (founded in 1839), students become part of rich traditions and rituals. Most notably, MU celebrated the nation’s first homecoming in 1911 inviting alumni to “come home” to the annual football game against the University of Kansas.
“I largely chose MU simply because it is the best education in Missouri,” Cole Crawford, agribusiness management major from Hamilton, Mo., said. “I was pretty unaware of just how much of a following MU had whenever I came here.”
Crawford has served on the Alumni Association Student Board for two and a half years, beginning the second semester of his freshman year. While working on AASB, Crawford has participated in planning two newer MU traditions, tiger walk and senior sendoff. AASB members developed these events around the turn of the century.
“We are constantly trying to grow and foster tradition at MU, and improve and further engrain current traditions,” Crawford said.
Because MU has such rich traditions, alumni bonds are very strong. Crawford has seen his alumni relations grow substantially as he approaches graduation in December.
“You meet alumni in the business world and they want to help you and boost you up when you have MU in common,” Crawford said.
Some students are intimidated by the large campus and population size of MU, but this leads to more networking opportunities when students enter the work force, as Crawford has seen. As MU makes the transition into the South Eastern Conference, the university is growing along with Columbia.
In addition to MU tradition and alumni relations, Crawford believes he has found a home in CAFNR.
“When you sit in the front of the classroom you don’t notice how big it is,” Dana Brown-Haynes, director of CAFNR alumni relations, said. “This is the approach CAFNR takes to the university as a whole.”
Since CAFNR has a small community atmosphere, students get the opportunity to meet fellow peers and faculty. At 2,500 undergraduate students, 400 graduate students and 250 faculty members, students enjoy a 7:1 student to faculty ratio. The small CAFNR size also makes its alumni unique.
“CAFNR alumni are more willing to dedicate their time and money because they are committed to giving current students the same positive experience they had in college,” Brown-Haynes said.
CAFNR has one of the strongest scholarship programs at MU, awarding nearly $1 million annually in scholarships with more than half awarded to freshmen. CAFNR grants an additional $1,000 renewable scholarship individually to freshmen who qualify for the MU Curators Scholar Award. Freshman biochemistry major, Lizzie Mellencamp, was awarded this additional scholarship for fall 2013.
“As a pre-med student every scholarship is crucial,” Mellencamp said. “The scholarships awarded to me by CAFNR were a huge deciding factor in pursuing an education at MU and CAFNR.”
Brown-Haynes said the alumni board consists of 30 members statewide who coordinate efforts for students like Mellencamp.
“The attitude of MU faculty, students and alumni create a family atmosphere that you can feel the minute you walk on campus,” Brown-Haynes said.
In addition to the campus alumni associations, each Missouri county has its own alumni association to ensure county representation at MU. Melissa Koch is the current Buchanan County Alumni Association president.
“The mission and purpose of our chapter is to promote the university and its alumni association in northwest Missouri,” Koch said.
The association’s annual golf tournament raises an average of $7,000 along with other fundraisers to benefit students. These funds help finance the MU education of Buchanan county residents. The Buchanan county chapter is also a capstone chapter within the MU Alumni Association. This is a sign of excellence and achievement that allows them to award a renewable $1,000 scholarship yearly. Tuition costs are $9,415 for Missouri residents and $23,764 for non-residents. With alumni boards such as these, many students are able to attend MU who may not otherwise have had the opportunity.
Through MU’s history, many notable alumni have been successful in athletics, politics, business, journalism, entertainment and science. Sam Walton, Wal-Mart founder, graduated with an economics degree in 1940 and current U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is also an alumna.
Strong statistics and tradition support MU’s many notable alumni and strong alumni relations. But, the choice to attend MU is only the beginning. Once you become a tiger, you are always a tiger.