Homecoming - This annual event provides for a gathering on the campus for alumni, parents, and friends who join with the faculty and student body to renew old friendships, make new acquaintances, and generally have a good time. Annually, the week is filled with various student activities, including – an all-school picnic, torchlight parade leading to bonfire, alumni fish fry, athletic events, cardboard boat race, alumni awards ceremony, and culminating with the crowning of the homecoming king and queen.
Since its founding in 1922, Midwestern State University has grown from a local junior college to a regional state university serving a wide and varied public. Created in 1922 as Wichita Falls Junior College, the second municipal junior college in Texas, its earliest home was in Wichita Falls High School with which it shared both the building and faculty. Later, a legislative act and a vote of the people of Wichita Falls set up a separate tax district to support the junior college. In 1937, the college acquired a new, 40-acre campus of its own on the south side of town. Rising above pastures and wheat fields was the recently finished Hardin Building, an impressive Spanish colonial structure which was presided over by a lofty bell tower. Also in that year the college was renamed Hardin Junior College in honor of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Hardin. During World War II, the establishment of Sheppard Field, later renamed Sheppard Air Force Base, added to the college's public. Since that time, air base personnel and their families have been continuing participants in the campus academic programs. The post World War II years brought more change in the school's mission and in its name. In 1946, the senior college division was added and accordingly the name was altered to Hardin College. In January 1950, the name changed to Midwestern University, the junior college division remaining Hardin Junior College. In these years, wider recognition came to the school. In March 1948, the university became a member of the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In January 1959, the university added the Graduate School, which received full approval from the State Board of Education in August of that year. A further change in the school's status came September 1, 1961, when by action of the 56th Legislature of the State of Texas, Midwestern University became part of the Texas Colleges and Universities System and the junior college division was dissolved. In 1975, the Texas Legislature changed the name to Midwestern State University. From its beginnings as a municipal junior college housed in a high school building, Midwestern has become a state university whose campus of 255 acres and 70 buildings offers a variety of academic programs in liberal and fine arts, mathematics, sciences, business, and applied sciences.
Ligon coached basketball, baseball, track, and tennis along with his teaching duties. He wasthe first Dean of Men, Dean of Administration, Dean of Graduate School, and served in othermajor administrative positions including Acting President, Executive Vice President, andDirector of University Development. Ligon was recognized "Mr. Midwestern" in 1965 by the MSUStudent Council for his outstanding service. Ligon earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from North Texas State University in 1931 beforefinishing a Master of Education (1938) and Doctorate of Education (1950) degrees at theUniversity of Texas. Following his retirement from teaching in 1970, he became Director of Sports Information andcontinued to serve in that capacity until 1990. Ligon was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in1973, awarded the NAIA Award of Merit in 1978, and was named the NAIA Outstanding SportsInformation Director in 1983. He was also active in the Wichita Falls community as he wasselected as the Wichita Falls Distinguished Salesman of the Year (1983) and the DowntownRotary Club's Distinguished Senior Citizen (1987). "Midwestern State is probably the only university in the United State with the former presidentserving as the Sports Information Director," MSU coaching legend Dr. Gerald Stockton oncesaid. "Probably the finest honor to be bestowed on D.L. Ligon came on Oct. 17, 1975, whenthe university named the D.L. Ligon Coliseum."
In 1981 a group of former students, who were active in the Ex-Students Association, came together to form the Kiowa Kooks. The group had been acting as the unofficial head cooks at homecoming festivities, and decided to form a chapter. The group was chartered through the then Ex-Students Association. With the help of the MSU plant engineer and maintenance department, a trailer was modified to accommodate their cooking needs. The group set a goal of raising $100,000 toward a scholarship endowment that would reward students who demonstrate a commitment to community service and academic performance. In 2008, the Kiowa Kooks surpassed its $100,000 goal, but that didn’t slow the group as they still continue to cook for 30 to 35 events each year including Homecoming, Spirit Days, Family Day, and reunions.
Great Day of Service
Each April, hundreds of university students, faculty, and staff descend upon the Wichita Falls community to dedicate time and effort to more than 30 local volunteer and nonprofit organizations and complete various service initiatives throughout the community. The mission of the Great Day of Service is to not only provide opportunities for students to partake in meaningful community service and support local nonprofit organizations, but also to bring awareness of the importance of civic responsibility and serving those in need. On average, more than 700 individual students, faculty, and staff participate each year. Since its inception in 2008, the Great Day of Service had already provided more than 9,700 hours of community service to Wichita Falls.
Semester Service Partnership
An excellent example of an activity for students to engage in community service includes the semester-long service partnership, wherein one local nonprofit organization is selected each fall/spring semester using student input and feedback. Throughout each semester numerous activities and philanthropic programs are organized to benefit the selected agency in hopes to provide a transformative experience for the organization through the sheer quantity of support provided by the university. Recent partnerships have included Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, North Texas United Way, Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, and Humane Society of Wichita County.
Fantasy of Lights
This dazzling display includes 34 brightly lit scenes and 20,000 plus lights outlining five major buildings on campus. Each October and November, a voluntary force of townspeople and MSU students work together, to do the hundreds of small jobs necessary, to bring the display to life. The Office of Public Information and Marketing estimates 200,000 people, from across the state, come to see the display annually.
In the late 1920s, the recently married Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Burns celebrated their first Christmas together in their modest home on Tenth Street in Wichita Falls by setting a small Christmas tree on their front porch and decorating it with a single, blue bulb. It was a small gesture, but an extremely meaningful one for the young couple, especially Mr. Burns, who grew up in a family unable to afford such luxuries as Christmas trees. As the years passed and Mr. Burns became more successful in the oil industry, the couple continued the tradition they began that first Christmas. Each year they set up a display of some kind, and each year the display became a little more elaborate than the year before. In 1954, Mr. Burns was killed in an automobile accident, but Mrs. Burns continued the display, dedicating it to her husband’s memory. Each Christmas season from 1954 until 1970, the front lawn of the Burns’ home, then located at Harrison and Clarinda, turned into a fantasyland of animated displays and brightly colored lights. By then, the display had become so large and so detailed that Mrs. Burns annually had to hire craftsmen and mechanics to repair and maintain the old scenes and design and build new ones.
In May 1971 Mrs. Burns, who had brought joy to so many people, died and the display was discontinued. In her will she stipulated that her son could keep the display or leave it to the care of Archer City, where many employees of the Burns estate lived and worked. The display remained in storage for the next three years. Following the death of Mrs. Burns’ son in 1974, Archer City offered the display to Midwestern State University on the condition that the display be operated free of charge to the public as a memorial to Mrs. Burns. Because MSU did not have the funds necessary to operate and maintain such an enormous project, a nonprofit Fantasy of Lights Committee was formed to raise the thousands of dollars needed to buy paint, equipment, and materials needed to restore the display and prepare for its exhibition during the 1974 Christmas season. A volunteer force of local townspeople, MSU students, faculty and staff, and airmen from Sheppard Air Force Base, spent many long hours repairing and restoring each scene. On December 4, 1974, after a tremendous undertaking involving hundreds of people, the master switch was thrown and the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights became a reality.
The original alma mater was written by Genaro Gonzales, and used for years despite the fact that some believed it to be a "dirge-like" tune. In 1951 Jim Jacobson, the nationally recognized band director of MSU, asked Harold Walters (the music arranger for the U.S. Navy Band) to write a new version (our present alma mater, except for the change of Mustangs in place of Indians). This was played at the initial home football game in September 1951.
Although little is known about the origin of the Fight Song, the popular inspiration of the Mustangs was composed by M.B. McClure after the development of the Alma Mater in the mid-1960s. Dedicated to 'Lead the Mustangs Brave,' the MSU fight song charges students to fight on victorious. The orginal title page for both the Alma Mater and Fight Song are can be found in the MSU Instrumental Music Hall.
The sports teams of the 1920s (golf, tennis and unofficially football) wore maroon and white for several years. Unfortunately so did several other college teams, which lead to confusion on the field for players, fans, and even referees. During 1924-25 the school's student-athletes agreed to modify the colors to maroon and gold. The choice of these colors was officially reconfirmed by the student body by order of a vote when the university moved to its present campus on Taft Boulevard in 1937.
Spirit of '22
Abandoned and left to a slow demise on the side of the road in Chillicothe, Texas, a 1942 Dodge pumper caught the eye of MSU Postal Services Supervisor Cindy Loveless. As she shared her find with Leslee Ponder, Director of Alumni Relations, the two quickly thought about the many possibilities the truck could have to promote spirit on the Midwestern campus. In 1995, with the help of Vice President Dr. Howard Farrell, Ponder arranged to purchase the vintage pumper for $2,000. The pumper received its name through a student contest in which Carlos Thomas submitted the name Spirit of '22. Herb Easley Motors provided the maroon and gold paint job, and former Wichita Falls Fire Chief Harold Lindsey outfitted the truck with a hose, fireman suit, and pick ax. For several years mechanical problems plagued the truck, but in Fall 2008 Larry Slack ('70) of Slack Ford Mercury Chrysler in Bowie, refurbished the truck. Today, it serves as a symbol of MSU spirit, firing up enthusiasm at home games and special events.
In 2006 Midwestern State University adopted the Mustangs as its new mascot. A year after the name change, the student body voted to named the new mascot Maverick. The change occurred so that MSU's athletic teams could host NCAA postseason events. The Indian served as the university mascot for 83 years. Although American Indian logos are not allowed in NCAA-sanctioned events, the Indian spirit and tradition is still visible throughout campus and through the passion MSU alumni have for the university.