Courtesy University of Central Missouri
There’s quite a bit of bustle these days in the small town of Warrensburg, Mo., thanks in large part to the University of Central Missouri and its 11,300 undergrads.
UCM began as a teacher’s college in 1871; today, it is a four-year school that awarded former President Bill Clinton an honorary degree during graduation in early May.
The Clinton visit isn’t the only news on the 1,500-acre campus this year. In January, UCM opened a recreation and wellness center, and in October it will unveil a clubhouse, now under construction at its 18-hole golf course on campus.
Both projects have implications for groups that choose UCM for their meetings, said Courtney Niemuth, marketing specialist for Union/Meeting and Conference Services.
The recreation center has a walking track, six multiuse courts and a climbing tower.
Meeting attendees pay a minimal per-day fee to use the center; staff there can design team-building programs for conferees.
In the golf clubhouse, a 150-person banquet room and a patio will be another venue for special events.
The golf course, where a round with cart costs $18, is among several atypical features at the college, said Niemuth.
There’s an airport, a nod to the school’s top aviation program; UCM is also home to the Missouri Safety Center, a driving course for motorcycles.
Although no motorcycle rallies have contacted the college about meeting there “they are certainly groups that we would like to have,” said Niemuth,” because they are such a good fit for the safety center.
UCM’s main meeting venue remains the Elliott Union, with more than 19,000 square feet of meeting space. A food court, a coffee shop, a bookstore and a 10-lane bowling alley are among features that students and meeting attendees enjoy.
The union’s largest meeting space can be used as three small ballrooms or one large ballroom for 500; a number of breakout rooms are across the hall.
The catering staff seems to enjoy the different challenges that conference business presents.
For a summertime meeting break, the staff made “Cold Stone creamery-style ice cream with mix-ins,” said Niemuth. “On a nice, warm spring day they served Italian sodas.”
Despite the college’s long history, its facilities are modern.
“They have put a lot of effort into keeping the facilities updated and to improving the facilities,” said Niemuth. “All of our residence halls are suite style or apartment style so there is no wandering down the hall, looking for a bathroom in the middle of the night.”
Location plays in the school’s favor. Suburban Kansas City is 35 miles away; the state capital in Jefferson City is a 90-minute drive.
Amtrak makes a stop at the train station in Warrensburg.
At Missouri State University in Springfield, the Plaster Student Union will host more than 15,000 meetings and events this year, not much of a surprise considering the meeting space packed into the four-story campus center.
A divisible grand ballroom with seating for up to 600 dominates on the third floor, where there are also 17 small breakout rooms and the Traywick Parliamentary Room, a tiered auditorium with seating for 100.
For welcome or awards dinners, the upscale Union Club is on the center’s fourth floor. Dinners for up to 100 can be held there, with a gas fireplace for warmth and numerous windows for campus views.
University of Missouri
At the University of Missouri — Columbia, conferences can be held on a 1,372-acre campus whose 5,000 trees and 650 varieties of plants have earned it a designation as a botanic garden.
The full-service conferencing office there has more than 45 years of experience working with groups as large as 5,000 attendees.