PALMYRA, Mo. – Mizzou Tigers of all generations saw old friends and made new connections during the annual Back to School Bash and Tailgate Party on Friday at Jackson Park Golf Course.
Dr, Christopher Daubert, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), and Chancellor Alexander Cartwright each talked with the crowd about the growth and accomplishments happening at the University of Missouri. The Mizzou Alumni Association Great River Tigers Chapter members gave 10 students scholarships, thanks to numerous local donors and the evening's raffle and silent auction. Incoming students and current students received wood Jenga pieces labeled with a certain word — each person searched for a fellow student with the corresponding piece, meeting new people and winning five dollars in the process.
Incoming freshman Blake Hays had a piece with the phrase "Tiger Stripe," and sophomore Olivia Foreman's piece read "ice cream." They agreed that the fun game encouraged new connections and getting to see familiar faces at the sprawling Columbia campus.
"It's a nice way to meet people who are all going to the same school," Foreman said.
Cory Novak, a current student planning to graduate in December, visited with his guest, India Tate during the social hour. He said they both enjoyed the experience as he prepared to head back to school.
"I think enrollment is great that it's up, and it's just another way to build a stronger network for future students and to get them more involved," he said. "That's the big perk about going to Mizzou, is that you're in a big community with lots of people to work with — and feed off of each other and work together as much as we can to get to a better place and help each other out." Tate agreed with Novak that the evening festivities were "a great experience" and opportunity to meet lots of people.
Incoming freshman Jordan Schafer said he was excited for his first year as a Tiger, and his early jitters have dissipated after attending the Summer Welcome program on campus and the Back to School Bash.
"It's starting to get easy and smooth going from here on out," he said. "It's been good so far, I've already seen some familiar faces here tonight, and I feel like it will be really helpful getting to know some more people and alumni and creating some helpful connections."
John and Jane Schafer were happy to be at the event with their grandson.
"We're Jordan's proud grandparents," John Schafer said.
After a dinner of pork loins, baked beans and the traditional Tiger Stripe ice cream, Cartwright and Daubert took turns speaking with the crowd. Cartwright said that Mizzou continues to see increasing enrollment numbers, and the "Our Time to Lead" campaign netted a record level of gifts for the unversity of $200 million.
Daubert prepared to celebrate his two-year anniversary at Mizzou on August 1. He said CAFNR students and professors have been busy with projects ranging from developing drought resistant crops, finding sustainable ways to produce more crops and even developing foods that can take the place of traditional medicines. Daubert said the student sendoff event reflected the positive attitude of the Missourians he's met so far.
"Missourians are so so hospitable. They have welcomed me and my family to the state, and the alumni are the just the finest group of people —it's a great group to be associated with," he said. "Every time I travel the state, alumni of the university are always so hospitable, kind and welcoming to me. These events that celebrate students, and those students electing to come to the University of Missouri, are some of the best events I attend every year."
Tenth Circuit Presiding Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd received a plaque for her support — emcee and Great River Tigers Chapter representative Al Kennett said Shepherd has given a $500 "Truman Donor" gift for scholarships from the beginning. Each of the 46 students lined up to introduce themselves and their course of study, and ten students received a $500 or $1,000 scholarship. Kennett offered best wishes to each of the students in their future endeavors.
"To the students, good luck," he said. "We love you and we hope you come join us next year."
For more information about the Great Rivers Tigers Chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association, please visit http://greatriver.missourialumnispaces.com or look for "Mizzou Alumni — Great River Tigers on Facebook.