Posted November 3, 2011 by Jack Voorhees 

The Higher Ed Geek Visits Missouri

I’ll admit it—I’m a higher ed geek. I never miss the opportunity to visit any campus that happens to be in the city I’m visiting.

Luckily, my job avails me opportunities to visit several campuses a year. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend the annual meeting of the Big 12 union directors at the University of Missouri. This doesn’t happen to me very often, but this higher ed geek was absolutely captivated by Mizzou. Two reason included the Missouri Student Unions and The Columns. By Adam Procter (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons 

The Missouri Memorial Union and Student Center (the Missouri Student Unions)
A beautiful example, the Missouri Memorial Union continues to be at the center of campus life. During one of our educational sessions, we had a panel discussion by five students, one of which was a current committee chairperson of the programming board. She came as a freshman from Texas, and by sophomore year, she had joined the programming board; now, as a senior, she told us that being involved in the Missouri Student Unions was the best part of her college career so far. She attributed getting a highly sought-after internship to her experience on the board. As we continue to tell our story about how important student leadership and involvement is, this young woman should be our spokesperson.

The new Missouri Student Center is a sight to behold. On the grounds of the old Brady Commons, they have created a veritable Mizzou temple. Knowing that students and alumni bleed black and gold, they took the opportunity to use only those colors in every wall covering, floor treatment, and tile. But it’s very subtle, and as we were told, a delightful nightmare for designers. Beside how busy this facility is, they have created several innovative and successful programs—laptop checkout, mandatory internships as a condition of a tenant’s lease, a retail space just for young entrepreneurs, and an authentic recreation (using the original wood planks) of an old Mizzou hangout called The Shack (talk about a way to engage alumni!). It was re-themed into Mort’s after famous Mizzou alum Mort Walker, who illustrated the Beatle Bailey comic. They have adorned two lounges with prominent alumni and student leaders from years gone by and created one of the largest student involvement centers I have ever had the opportunity to visit. It is truly a magnificent building and program.

The Columns
The traditional symbol of the University of Missouri is the row of six Ionic columns. The Columns once supported the portico of Academic Hall, the first building erected on campus. In 1892, Academic Hall was destroyed by fire and the Columns were all that remained. In August 1893, the Board of Curators voted to remove the Columns, considering them unsafe and unsightly. However, supporters of the Columns rallied to their defense. After inspection showed the foundations were safe, the board voted to retain them in December 1893.

MissouriColumnsThe Columns are central to two traditions at Mizzou: the Tiger Walk and the Tiger Prowl. At the beginning of each academic year, the first-year students gather on one side of the Columns and, in a sort of convocation, walk through toward Jesse Hall, symbolizing their entrance into Mizzou. The corresponding event for seniors, the Tiger Prowl, happens at the end of the academic year, as students walk in the opposite direction with the Columns symbolizing their lifelong connection as alumni of Mizzou.

Needless to say, there are dozens of other things that struck me about my visit to Mizzou. But standing in front of the Columns, it was not hard for me to imagine what I might have felt like if I were a new student waiting to walk through. And if I became this captivated by a campus in just a couple of days, it’s no wonder to me why alumni feel so strongly about Mizzou. It’s a testament to the work that we do to create lasting and positive experiences for students.

Jack Voorhees

Jack Voorhees is the Director of Business Services at ACUI.


Great story of tradition and history - what a beautiful campus. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Raymond West
Comment posted 11/04/2011 12:00 AM
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