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.
Homecoming Parade. In the 1950’s the Homecoming Parade flowed through the streets of Downtown Wichita Falls, but stopped after the football program left what was then Midwestern University. In more recent years, in an effort to increase the activities students and community members have to participate in Homecoming festivities, the Parade was brought back. Today, the Homecoming Parade takes place on the MSU campus and brings students, alumni, and community neighbors out to enjoy the creativity and floats of the student organizations.
Cardboard Boat Race. The Homecoming Cardboard Boat Race has become a much anticipated event. Held in conjunction with the Homecoming Fish Fry, this event attracts numerous spectators to cheer on the student organization teams as they try to make their way across Sikes Lake. Fully constructed from nothing more than cardboard and duct tape, these boats are decorated and launched to see who will win the race, or otherwise compete for the important Titanic Award.
Torchlight Parade & Bonfire. The Homecoming Bonfire has been around for several years, dating as far back as the 1960’s. The Bonfire serves as the official Pep Rally before the big homecoming game. The event continues to bring students, faculty/staff, and alumni back for a evening to cheer on the athletic teams as well as a provide a venue for the Homecoming Lip Sync Competition finals. The Torchlight Parade began in conjunction with America’s Greatest College Weekend in the 1980’s. After football returned to MSU in 1988, the Torchlight Parade was incorporated as a precursor to the Bonfire. Today, these two events comprise the most attended student tradition at MSU, and are possibly the most memorable part about Homecoming week.
Kiowa Kooks Fish Fry. The Kiowa Kooks, a special alumni group at MSU, began the Homecoming Fish Fry a number of years ago as a way to raise money for their scholarship fund and to add a social element alumni and students. The Fish Fry is a treasured event that attracts almost 1,000 attendees each year, who yearn for the Kiowa Kooks’ fixings such as fried catfish, hushpuppies, hamburgers, and French fries. It is a an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with their classmates and a venue for students to network and make contacts with alumni.
Parents, family members, and friends join their MSU student, or students, for a relaxing day of fun. Every year, thousands of MSU’s extended family come to celebrate and display their MSU pride by cheering on our Mustangs! Festivities include a variety of games, free food, novelties, and entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. Attendance at all Family Day events is free for family members and guests of current MSU students.
Dating back to the fall of 2004, Welcome Week began as a joint endeavor between the Student Government Association and former Office of Student Activities. The event takes place during the first week of class each fall and spring semester, and features a multitude of diverse activities for students to make new friends, connect with the campus, and enjoy themselves. Now coordinated by the Office of Student Development and Orientation, Welcome Week is a collaborative effort, jointly implemented by several offices in the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, as well as various registered student organizations. Welcome Week activities range from outdoor movies, special entertainers, crafts, novelties, tours and scavenger hunts, day trips, cookouts, and much more.
In the fall of 2006, New Student Convocation was added to Welcome Week as the official entrance ceremony for entering students. Designed to set a strong academic precedent and instill a sense of pride amongst entering students, this highly spirited and motivational event is emceed by returning student leaders and features an outstanding keynote speaker as well as an official welcome from the University administration and City of Wichita Falls. At the conclusion of the Convocation ceremony, new students participate in a march to the Clark Student Center, where they are welcomed by the cheerleaders, marching band, student government executives, and their fellow students, and officially branded as Mustangs. Each new Mustang receives a brand new maroon MSU t-shirt!
Each spring semester, Greek social organizations are recognized at a series of Greek Week activities. MSU's week-long event sponsored by the Order of Omega, the Greek Honor Society, to promote unification of the Greek community through philanthropic and educational events and competition. During Greek Week, MSU Greeks compete among themselves in various physical and service activities and play host to social events for the entire campus.
This function is an annual affair in which outstanding students from the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes are recognized. In addition to the naming of MSU’s Man and Woman of the Year and Hardin Scholar, the university recognizes the scholastic and leadership achievements of students.
The “Hardin Scholar” is the university’s highest award for academic excellence and was begun in 1961 by the Hardin Foundation. It is presented each spring to a student during his or her senior year and a $2,500 scholarship award is given with the honor.
The Clark award was established in 1976 to honor E.B. Clark, a former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the MSU Foundation, and carries with it a $1,500 scholarship award. It is presented each spring to a student in his or her junior year.
What started on December 4, 2003, as a partnership between the former Office of Student Activities and the Department of Housing and Residence Life has grown into a tradition at Midwestern State University. Each long semester, on the Thursday before final exams, multiple departments within the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, along with the University Programming Board and various registered student organizations, put together an exciting yet relaxing evening experience for students known as Finals Frenzy. The event spans a four hour period and includes a plethora of activities ranging from entertainers, arts and crafts, movies, giveaways, free food, and more. Each semester is different; some feature massages and zen gardens while others feature Nerf assault and video games. On average, 12-15 different activities take place during each event, giving students multiple options based on their unique personalities and interests.
Every year, Caribfest brings the famous Caribbean, or more internationally known West Indian, culture to campus! Annually, thousands of students and community members come to campus to celebrate the independence of various countries located in the West Indies region. The festival includes a two hour street parade, traditional Caribbean food, rhythms of the pan ensemble, and traditional dances. Each year, the celebration ends with a cultural showcase and allows participants the opportunity to obtain traditional arts and crafts of the West Indian culture.
Midwestern State University takes tremendous pride in this cultural event, as it is the largest event organized by students. The Caribbean Student Organization, the largest student organization on campus, hosts this event annually on the first Friday of October
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.
The Hardin Tower was part of the original campus and the first structure built on campus. The tower was erected in 1937; it had a storage area and a few small class rooms. In 1952 President Boren heard the Carillion Bells at another college and with the help of the Mabee Foundation; our bells were cast and lifted into the tower that same year. The Redwine Carillon housed in the tower is comprised of 37 bells. The bells play the Westminster chime every quarter-hour and strike the hour on the hour.
The mustangs sculptures located on the south side of D.L. Ligon Coliseum, created by Jack Stevens, pays tribute to MSU. A stone near the mustangs bears the following inscription: The Believers – Wisdom, Strength, Courage. These Mustangs were given to the university by the Dillard family.
Sikes House, located at 2405 Midwestern Parkway, is the official residence of the university's president. The home was built between July 1939 and November 1940 by Mr. Louis Sikes, an oilman and rancher, and his wife Glenna. The architectural firm of Goodwin and Tatum of Dallas designed the home, and Harry Naylor of Wichita Falls constructed it.
Wooden moldings around doorways and windows in the formal areas were hand-crafted on site from Washington State timber. Besides the hand-crafted woodwork, two of the home's most striking interior features are found in the foyer: an eighteen-foot window on the south wall and a helical staircase, noted for its delicate ironwork and slender brass banister, that curves in front of the window midway up the stairs.
The university purchased the property from Mr. and Mrs. Sikes in 1970. From 1974 forward the home has served as the president's private residence and as the site of official receptions and dinners hosted by the president. In November of 1991 the university officially named the home Sikes House. Dr. Jesse W. Rogers, who has served as MSU's president since August 2001, is the fourth president to live in the home.
The Bolin Fountain, centered in the Quadrangle, just west of the Hardin Administration Building, is the central hub of the university and a popular gathering place for the student body. Mr. and Mrs. D. Phil Bolin believed that the beautification of the campus to be of the utmost importance, and funding the construction of the fountain. Students helped lay the brick walkways to and from the fountain. In 1992 the fountain was officially dedicated to the Bolin family, after its completion.
In 1996 the Ex-Students Association began searching for a project to commemorate the university's 75th anniversary. The Sunwatcher statue of a South Plains Indian by Jack Stephens was chosen. The bronze statue exemplifies the progressive academic spirit of the university. Kiowa elders were invited to be a part of the dedication ceremony; they sang tribal hymns and elder Jacor Ahtone addressed the crowd, reminding the audience of the long-standing relationship between his tribe and Midwestern.
These three limestone pillars, by artist Sandi Stein, are located on the south lawn of Bolin Hall. They were designed and commissioned by Doug Burns, in honor of his mother, father and wife. They were donated to MSU during the 75th anniversary celebration in 1997.
The names of the alumni and friends identified as significant to the long-term success of the university will be inscribed permanently on a marble slab embedded in the Legacy Walk sidewalk. The MSU Board of Regents, on the advice of the Legacy Walk Recognition Committee, designate honorees for recognition in one of two areas; service to the university demonstrated by a long-term commitment to advancing the university's mission and goals as well as financial support of the university by dedicating their personal financial resources to the advancement of excellence at the university with gifts totaling $1 million or more during their lifetime.
In 1999, the Hotter'N Hell Hundred (HHH), annual bike race in Wichita Falls, was celebrating its 18th year and the turn of millennia. In recognition of these celebrations, the organization wanted to craft something in honor of the volunteers and increase the beautification of the city.
HHH commissioned Jack Stephens, sculptor of the Sunwatcher statue and the Believers, to create a work of art to reflect the sport of cycling. In addition, the organization selected Steve Brown and Allison Dunlap, two prominent individuals of the Wichita Falls cycling community, to be models for the art. To fund the project, the HHH, along with various community leaders, sold bricks at varying amounts. Once funded, the original plan was to have the statue placed at the Multi-Purpose Event Center (MPEC) and the bricks sold were to be placed at the base of the statue.
Roby Christy, HHH Chairman, contacted Dr. Robert Clark, Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management and MSU’s cycling sponsor, regarding the Cyclist – the name given to the statue. Clark, with the support of the administration, began negotiations with HHH to find a location on the university for the sculpture. In 2000, a mutual agreement was made between the university and HHH to have the statue placed at its current location, southwest of the Hardin Administration Building. Today, the statue is viewed by thousands annually and celebrates the rich history of cycling in our community.
An exact replica of the Liberty Bell cast by the Paccard Fonderie des Cloches of Annecy, France, is located in front of the Hardin Administration Building. This generous gift, from Mr. and Mrs. Phil Bolin, is a symbol of freedom and a beautiful reminder of our past. The markings and inscriptions replicate the Liberty Bell down to the nail that was placed in the crack. The bell is 44 1/2" in diameter, 42 3/16" high (including the yoke and stand), and weighs 2,050 pounds.
On February 25, 1925, Volume 1, Issue 1 of The Wichitan circulated the college corridors. A front-page editorial explained the staff's objective was to “mirror the student life of this institution in its every phrase,” giving students a chance to express themselves and promote school spirit.
The newspaper is editorially independent and is neither censored by faculty or administration nor reviewed prior to publication. The university's administration has had a long-standing policy of not interfering with The Wichitan’s right to publish freely.
Mass communication majors and non-majors are welcome. In addition to traditional writing, reporting, and editing work, students are hired for photography, graphics, layout/design, advertising, and circulation. Student editor pay is ranked among the top five percent nationally.
In 2004, the newspaper was selected by the Associated Collegiate Press as one of the top 100 college newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. It consistently garners honors at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. In 2009, the paper received first place in overall excellence, and firsts in feature writing, news feature writing, news story, editorial, critical review, photo illustration, news photo, and sports feature story.
Past Wichitan editors and reporters have graduated and gone on to careers in writing/reporting, advertising, marketing, production, photography, graphics/design, and teaching. Some have also completed graduate programs as well as law school.
“O-Wa-Ki-Ya” is a Native American term meaning “to cause to write.”
In the early 1930s, MSU’s Writing Club, composed of aspiring journalists and—to quote an article from 1934—“other varieties of scribblers,” created the O-Wa-Ki-Ya, an annual publication sponsored by MSU that contained the best of the feature articles, short stories, one-act plays, poems, and informal and formal essays written by the members of the Writer’s Club. It was the only published literary effort of its kind.
The Owakiya had fallen by the wayside by 1965 and was replaced by the Midwestern State University Quarterly. Another incarnation of the publication, called Ahimsa, existed between 1965 and 1969.
In 1975, the Press Club brainstormed and created the first issue of Voices. Editor Kathy Weber and faculty advisor Tom Hoffman combined student art and literature, faculty essays, and newspaper publications in this first issue, which honored the inauguration of the new MSU President Dr. John Barker. It featured art and literature from 15 departments on campus. It was financed by a $2,600 allocation from the MU Board of Regents and was sold at the MU bookstore, as well as other bookstores within the city. In 1977, the Student Publication series began.
For its first 20 years, Voices was published in black and white. The transition in publication layout from black and white to color began in 1995. The cover of that year’s Voices was created in sepia tone. In 1998, the first full-color cover was published. A two-page, color insert for fine art materials was included in the 1999 issue and the publication has only broadened its colorful spectrum since, evolving to include several pages of color artwork.
Currently Voices is completely based on student submissions and is distributed for free each spring.
The Wai-Kun is the student yearbook of Midwestern State University. Designed by students, for students, the yearbook is a true student publication -- a pictorial record of the events, activities, and culture on the MSU campus during a respective year. In 2008, the final Wai-Kun was printed, as the publication went digital after 83 years of production.
Sunwatcher magazine launched its first edition in Spring 2002. It encompasses campus news, alumni news, athletics, and donor activity. Currently published twice a year, it is distributed free of charge to university friends, alumni, faculty, and staff.
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.
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.
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 1920's (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.
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. The change occurred so that MSU's athletic teams could host NCAA postseason events. A year after the name change, the student body voted to named the new mascot Maverick. The Indian had 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.