The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 18, 2012

MSSU mascot has seen numerous changes through the years

Just as Missouri Southern has evolved — from a junior college, to a college and ultimately into a university — Southern’s mascot has evolved, too.

Ron Mitchell, dean of students at MSSU, said the mascot has always been a lion, but there have been at least seven different versions of the lion throughout the school’s history.

The first one was used in 1943, he said, seven years after Joplin Junior College was founded.

“We think that the first four lions were drawn by students.”

The first lions, done when Southern was still Joplin Junior College, don’t reflect the ferocity associated with the king of beasts — a ferocity that wouldn’t be captured until the images adopted in the 1970s.

According to Mitchell, who has been researching the images for the 75th anniversary of MSSU, none of the first four lions had an official status, either, and saw only limited use.

The 1971 lion was the first official lion and saw more widespread use on posters, ads, calendars and more.

The 1987 lion was extensively used for more than 20 years and still continues as part of the university seal, Mitchell noted in an email to The Globe.

“The 2007 lion was designed at the request the sports department and has become the current logo for the university,” according to Mitchell.

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