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April 16, 2024

Symonds pledges support to Martindale Hall upgrades, capping 28-year Northwest career

A longtime Northwest Missouri State University faculty member is paying tribute to the institution and academic field that shaped his career with a gift supporting its renovation of Martindale Hall.

Dr. Matt Symonds, who is retiring from Northwest on May 31 as a professor of health science in the School of Health Science and Wellness, has pledged $20,000 to the Martindale Hall project.

“People made an impact on me, and I know what those experiences – hands-on experiences in the classroom – did for me,” Symonds said. “I just want others to experience that.”

Dr. Matt Symonds (Photo by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Dr. Matt Symonds (Photo by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Symonds, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northwest before joining the University’s staff in 1996, is transitioning to his next role as the executive director of the Missouri Society of Health and Physical Educators (MOSHAPE).

He has been a member of the organization for about 30 years and served as its president in 2010. As executive director, he will manage MOSHAPE’s operations and assist its Board of Directors.

“I’m really excited about the next chapter of my career,” he said. “I’m ready to try something different.”

A rendering of how Martindale Hall may appear after renovations to the facility are complete.

A rendering of how Martindale Hall may appear after renovations to the facility are complete.

In the meantime, Northwest is entering the final phases of its plans to renovate and modernize Martindale Hall, a project that will address space needs and centralize operations for allied health sciences programs. When complete, the renovated space will house the University’s foods and nutrition lab, a well-being lab and a sports science lab as well as classrooms and collaboration and lounge spaces.

Northwest completed a $1.3 million renovation of Martindale Hall’s third floor last year that includes academic laboratory spaces to support nursing, human services and school counseling programs as well as faculty offices. The Missouri General Assembly approved $8.5 million, and Northwest is raising funds to match the state grant and fund the $17.5 million project total by December 2024.

“We’ve really expanded the technology we have in our labs and the things that students can learn how to do while they’re here, so the expanded lab spaces are going to be super helpful to provide more students with more access and experiences,” Symonds said.

An Iowa native, Symonds graduated from Northwest in 1990 with his bachelor’s degree in business. But after working in the business profession for a couple of years, he realized a career in that field didn’t fit him and returned to Northwest to attend graduate school, pursuing a master’s degree in health and physical education. 

As an undergraduate student, Symonds had worked in campus recreation, and that experience helped him land a role as a graduate assistant. He also helped the athletics department as a graduate student with game ticket sales and took on other responsibilities to support Bearcat athletic programs. Upon finishing his master’s degree in 1994, Symonds accepted an offer to join the Northwest staff.

Symonds counts former Northwest faculty and staff members Dr. Jim Herauf, Bob Lade and Dr. Jim Redd among valued mentors who helped him develop his knowledge and gain experience.

“All three of them were key influences and helped me develop and refine my interests in health, physical education and sport,” Symonds said. “They also provided examples of what good leadership looks like. Many of the things I learned from them I use to this day.”

Symonds served from 1996 to 2002 as business manager and events coordinator in Northwest’s Department of Athletics, before joining the faculty as an instructor in what was then the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. In 2012, Symonds was named chair of the department and subsequently became the founding director of the School of Health Science and Wellness during the 2015-16 academic year.

The Northwest Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, develops and stewards philanthropic resources for the benefit of Northwest Missouri State University and its students. It is governed by a volunteer board and staffed by members of Northwest’s Office of University Advancement.

To make a gift to support Northwest, including Martindale Hall, contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248 or visit


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