Southwest Minnesota State University

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Southwest Minnesota State University
Southwest Minnesota State University seal.svg
MottoDiscover. Engage. Lead.
TypePublic university
Parent institution
Minnesota State system
Academic affiliations
Budget$57 million (2019)[1]
PresidentKumara Jayasuriya
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

44°27′16″N 95°45′34″W / 44.45444°N 95.75944°W / 44.45444; -95.75944Coordinates: 44°27′16″N 95°45′34″W / 44.45444°N 95.75944°W / 44.45444; -95.75944
CampusSmall City (Rural), 216 acres (87 ha)
ColorsBrown and Gold[3]
Southwest Minnesota State University logo.svg

Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) is a public university in Marshall, Minnesota. It is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. The university has an enrollment of approximately 8,700 students and employs 148 faculty members.[4] It is divided into two major colleges, the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences and the College of Business, Education, and Professional Studies.[5] SMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.[6]


The university was founded in 1964 as Southwest Minnesota State College (SMSC). It admitted its first class of students on September 19, 1967. The college became Southwest State University (SSU) on August 1, 1975, and kept that name for nearly thirty years until adopting the name Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) on July 1, 2003.[7]

The student newspaper, originally called The Impact, was first published May 10, 1968. The name was changed to The Reader in 1974, and then back to The Impact in 1980.[8] In 2003 the name was changed to The Spur to be more consistent with the Mustang theme and to spur students into action.

The R/A (Recreation/Athletic) Facility was built in 1996 and is a 4,000-seat multi-purpose venue.

New SMSU Student Center, completed in 2005

On January 2, 2002, a fire destroyed the Student Center,[9] which originally featured an underground living area and a glass dome. The dome's concrete framework was incorporated into the new student and conference center and is still visible in the food court area. The new center was completed in 2005. It features a replica of the original dome with the words "Student Center Dome: 1972–2002" written on it at the Alumni Heritage Center, near the Mustang Zone in the upper level.

In 2005 SMSU developed the first bachelor's degree culinology program in the nation to be approved by the Research Chefs Association.[10]

On September 6, 2008, the new Regional Event Center officially opened on the western edge of campus. The athletic field was named Mattke Field after the old field, and in honor of past athletic director Glenn Mattke. The center is used by the Mustang football and soccer teams, as well as teams from Marshall High School, and for other regional activities, such as concerts. It took two years and $16 million to complete.[11]


Southwest Minnesota State University provides undergraduate education in the liberal arts and professional studies. The most popular undergraduate majors are business administration and education. It also has specialized graduate programs in education, special education, and business administration.[12] The MBA program has degree options in marketing, leadership, and the general MBA.[13] Students can take classes both onsite and online. The graduate school does not have a student senate, but there is an MBA student organization.[14] A critical element of the undergraduate and graduate business programs' success is the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center, where students can do research on actual businesses.[15]

Theatre students in a production of Play by Samuel Beckett

In addition to being regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, SMSU's programs are also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Minnesota Board of Teaching, the American Chemical Society and the Council on Social Work Education.[16]


Most of the SMSU campus was constructed between 1965 and 1973 according to a unified plan. The brick and concrete buildings are interconnected via tunnels and enclosed walkways, providing a continuous and controlled environment during both summer and winter. The residence halls are not connected. There are many courtyards with gardens between the buildings. The campus is virtually barrier-free, allowing easy access to students in wheelchairs.

The university's residence halls were named by the students during the late 1960s and reflect various themes and values of the times, e.g. Aquarius, Casa Futura, Methedras and Kama Sutra. Armstrong Hall was named after astronaut Neil Armstrong in honor of his trip to the moon in 1969. Manchester Hall was named for pop singer Melissa Manchester after a concert she gave on campus.[17]

In 2009 the university opened a new dorm named Sweetland Hall in honor of a late president, Douglas Sweetland.

Residence Halls:

  • Traditional Halls – Six complexes of four connected halls that were built in the 1960s and feature a common bathroom for the whole floor.
  • Sweetland Hall – A new complex with around 250 beds with a bathroom shared by suit-mates (two to four people).
  • Foundation Apartments – Apartment style residence hall with laundry and kitchen appliances in each apartment.

There are no fraternities or sororities on campus in order to promote a safe and friendly environment for all students.


The Southwest Marketing Advisory Center (SMAC) is located on the second floor of the Science and Technology building, Room 203. SMAC is a self-funded entity within the academic marketing program at Southwest State. Its mission is to serve the marketing and research needs of southwestern Minnesota while giving real-world experience to junior, senior and graduate-level student employees.[18]

Each student attending Southwest Minnesota State University pays a .43 cent per credit fee to fund the Minnesota State University Student Association, a student-led nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of all students.


The school athletic teams are the Mustangs. Their colors are the prairie colors of brown and gold.

The Mustangs compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), which is a part of NCAA Division II. Programs for men include basketball, wheelchair basketball, baseball, cross country, track, football, and wrestling. The programs for women are basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball and swimming.

Museums and public attractions[edit]

SMSU features several facilities that are open to the general public and school groups.

  • SMSU Museum of Natural History – The SMSU Museum of Natural History is focused on the plants and animals native to Minnesota.[19]
  • SMSU Art Museum – The SMSU Art Museum comprises two art galleries: the William Whipple Art Gallery I and II, named after a former Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at Southwest.[20] Gallery I is in the SMSU library, and the smaller Gallery II is on the second floor of Founders Hall. The museum also features art on display at various locations around campus.
  • SMSU Museum of Indigenous Americans – features Native American artifacts including pottery, artwork, baskets, projectile points[21]
  • SMSU Planetarium – The planetarium is in the Science and Math Building and features a variety of laser and multi-media presentations. There is also a rooftop observation deck and telescopes for public night viewing of the sky.
  • Greenhouse – The greenhouse is open to the public during regular school hours. The collection includes cacti, aloes, agaves, bananas, pineapples, palms, cycads and herbs. There are informational displays about many plants.[22] Biology, agronomy and environmental science students carry out plant experiments there.
  • ADM & SMSU Environmental Learning Area – The 22-acre (8.9 ha) ADM & SMSU Environmental Learning Area is on the northwest corner of campus, by Mattke Field. The open area features trails through different ecosystems including prairie, woodlands, ponds and marsh.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 Minnesota State Legislative Databook" (PDF). Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System website. Minnesota State System. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  2. ^ Hertel, Nora (October 22, 2019). "How has enrollment at Minnesota State schools changed in a decade?". St. Cloud Times. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  3. ^ SMSU Brand Guide (PDF). May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "About". Welcome to Southwest.
  5. ^ "Southwest Minnesota State University video". OVGuide. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014.
  6. ^ "SMSU's HLC Accreditation Web Page".
  7. ^ Name changes approved for Southwest State University and Anoka-Hennepin Technical College Archived March 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved September 12, 2016
  8. ^ [1] Archived October 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Then & Now". SMSU.
  10. ^ State of the Nutra Industry, Retrieved January 4, 2007
  11. ^ Bruns, S. (September 10, 2008). Grand opening of the $16 million regional event center goes well. The Spur, Volume 6, Issue 1, Page 1.
  12. ^ "SMSU | Graduate Studies". Archived from the original on May 21, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "SMSU | Graduate Studies". Archived from the original on May 21, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  14. ^ "SMSU Master of Business Administration". Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 5, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "SMSU 2009–2010 Fact Book" (PDF). SMSU. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 5, 2013.
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Southwest Marketing Advisory Center".
  19. ^ SMSU Natural History Museum Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ SMSU Art Gallery Archived December 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Museum of Indigenous Americans Opens April 27". SMSU. April 10, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  22. ^ Greenhouse Archived January 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]