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News Release

Dec. 8, 2023

Commencement ceremonies celebrate achievements, encourage graduates’ continued growth, leadership

Northwest Missouri State University honored its winter graduates during three commencement ceremonies Friday that celebrated all its newest alumni have accomplished at the University while encouraging them to keep learning.

“Graduates, your journey to this moment was not accomplished alone, and the lifelong benefits you will receive from your education cannot be overstated,” Northwest President Dr. Lance Tatum said during his remarks to graduates and their families in Bearcat Arena.

Dr. Lance Tatum  (Photos by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Dr. Lance Tatum (Photos by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman and Dr. Greg Haddock, associate provost of graduate studies and special programs, place a master's degree hood on a Northwest graduate.

Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman and Dr. Greg Haddock, associate provost of graduate studies and special programs, place a master's degree hood on a Northwest graduate.

A Northwest graduate flashes her diploma cover after one of the University's commencement ceremonies on Friday.

A Northwest graduate flashes her diploma cover after one of the University's commencement ceremonies on Friday.

Presiding over his first commencement day at Northwest, since becoming the University’s 11th president in June, Tatum encouraged graduates to stay connected with the University – and make differences in ways that increase the value of their education. Tatum also called on graduates to embrace leadership and set positive examples for others.

“Great leaders are always growing,” Tatum said. “They have a hunger that makes them stretch. That stretch makes them a little wiser today than they were yesterday. I also believe great leaders never stop learning. They never stop reflecting and they are not afraid of change because growth is dependent on change. When we think about growth and when we think about change, remember this thought: It’s not about being perfect, it’s about getting better.”

With that thought, Tatum encouraged graduates to build confidence in themselves and other people, to build courage and to embrace decision-making as an essential component to success.

“Sometimes we become afraid of making the wrong decision, that we can’t decide, and then either life or other people decide for us,” Tatum said. “You must realize this simple fact: There is always going to be a chance that you may fail, but facing that chance, and embracing it, is not only courageous – it also gives us a fuller, more rewarding life.”

Concluding his remarks, Tatum recognized Northwest’s culture of innovation and excellence, “enriched by steadfast faculty and staff” who prepare graduates for opportunities to help advance the state and region while upholding the University’s values.  

“Despite the challenges you have faced along your journey, particularly those presented by the pandemic, you have soared above and beyond, showing the world what it means to be a Bearcat,” Tatum said to graduates. “Adversity did not deter you. Instead, it forged you into a resilient individual, ready to embrace what lies ahead. Your achievement today is a testimony to your strength, perseverance and unyielding drive to succeed.”

The commencement ceremonies celebrated 1,001 students, ranging in age from 20 to 62. Northwest awarded 346 bachelor’s degrees, 576 master’s degrees and 79 education specialist degrees.

Business management was the most common bachelor’s degree among the graduates, and applied computer science was the most common master’s degree.

Geographically, the graduates represented 34 states with half of them hailing from locations in Missouri; another 18 percent were from the surrounding states of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Northwest celebrated 251 international graduates, representing the countries of India, Kenya and Nigeria.

About Northwest Missouri State University

With an enrollment of about 10,000 students, Northwest is a coeducational, primarily residential four-year university that offers a broad range of undergraduate and selected graduate programs on its Maryville campus as well as its Northwest-Kansas City location and through Northwest Online.

Founded in 1905 and ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the top public regional universities in the Midwest, Northwest boasts a high retention rate and a graduation rate in the 95th percentile among its peers. Additionally, results of the 2021 Ruffalo Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory show Northwest students are more satisfied than students at national peers, and 80 percent of Northwest students report they would repeat their University experience, compared to 77 percent of students surveyed nationally at their respective institutions.

Furthermore, 97 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data

Northwest places a high emphasis on profession-based learning to help graduates get a jumpstart on their careers. Students have opportunities to build their résumés with experiences on campus in nearly every area of study, including the Horace Mann Laboratory SchoolNational Public Radio affiliate KXCV, the R.T. Wright Farm, Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area or Knacktive, a student-driven integrated digital marketing communications agency. In conjunction with its emergency and disaster management program, Northwest organizes and hosts Missouri Hope, an annual mass casualty training exercise that attracts first responders and emergency workers from throughout the nation and provides hands-on training in preparation for a natural disaster.

The University’s vibrant and diverse learning community also offers more than 150 student organizations, and textbooks and a laptop are included in tuition, which is among the lowest in the nation, saving students an estimated $6,800 over four years. Northwest offers 1,200 student employment positions, allowing students to build professional skills through its internationally benchmarked student employment program. 

For more information about Northwest and its performance, visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215