Park University

Coordinates: 39°11′24″N 94°40′48″W / 39.1899°N 94.6801°W / 39.1899; -94.6801
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Park University
MottoFides et Labor
Motto in English
Faith & Work
TypePrivate university
Established1875; 148 years ago (1875)
PresidentShane B. Smeed
ProvostMichelle Myers
Students11,457; 9,861 undergraduate (fall 2017)[1]

39°11′24″N 94°40′48″W / 39.1899°N 94.6801°W / 39.1899; -94.6801
ColorsCanary and Wine[2]
NicknamePirates (Parkville),
Buccaneers (Gilbert)
Sporting affiliations
NAIAHAAC (Parkville)
NAIA – Cal Pac (Gilbert)
Mackay Hall

Park University is a private university in Parkville, Missouri. It was founded in 1875.[1] In the fall of 2017, Park had an enrollment of 11,457 students.[1]


The school which was originally called Park College was founded in 1875 by John A. McAfee on land donated by George S. Park with its initial structure being the stone hotel Park owned on the bluff above the Missouri River.

The original concept called for students to receive free tuition and board in exchange for working up to half day in the college's farm, electrical shop or printing plant. According to the terms of the arrangement if the “Parkville Experiment” did not work out within five years, the college grounds were to revert to Park.[3]

There were 17 students in the first school year and in the first graduation class there were five women. McAfee led until his death in 1890. His son Lowell M. McAfee became the second president of Park until stepping down in 1913. The first international student at Park University arrived in 1880 from Japan.

The defining landmark of the campus is Mackay Hall, named after Carroll County, Illinois banker Duncan Mackay who donated $25,000 in materials for the structure shortly before his death.[4] The building was constructed using limestone mined on the campus grounds and built with the labor of students. Construction began in 1883 and was finished by 1893. Mackay Hall is the main focal point of the campus and dominates the hillside, overlooking the town of Parkville. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

For decades the school was affiliated with the Presbyterian Church but it no longer has that affiliation.[when?] The college has had a relationship with the military since 1889. However, the relationship was greatly expanded in the late 1960s with the establishment of a Military Degree Completion Program and later in 1972 with the Military Resident Center System. Park's total enrollment has grown from its small base since 1996 when it first began offering online courses.[5] In 2000, it was renamed Park University.


Parkville campus[edit]

The flagship campus of Park University is located in the city of Parkville, Missouri. The Park University Graduate School is located in downtown Kansas City. There are 41 campuses in 22 U.S. states[6] including four campuses in the Kansas City area (downtown Kansas City, Independence, Lenexa, and Parkville) and a campus center in Austin, Texas. Most of the satellite campuses are on or near United States military bases and share quarters with other businesses/organizations.

The 800-acre (323.7 ha) home campus had an enrollment of 1,600 students representing 50 states and 106 countries as of 2006.[7] The entire extended system had an annual student enrollment of 23,000 in 2008.[8]

Gilbert campus[edit]

In 2018, the university opened a campus center in Gilbert, Arizona in the city's Heritage District. Park leased 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) at the University Building.[9] The university continued to expand the Gilbert campus in 2019, leasing an additional 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) and extending the initial three-year term to five years with the city.[9] The university continued to expand the Gilbert campus with the addition of college athletics.[9] Initially playing as an independent during the 2019–20 academic year, the university announced membership in the NAIA and California Pacific Conference (Pac West) starting in 2020–21.[10]


  • Ranked second in the “online and nontraditional” category on the Military Times’ "Best for Vets: Colleges 2016" list.[11]
  • Ranked second among all private colleges/universities in the country with a 9.5 percent annual ROI by 2015 PayScale College ROI Report.[12]
  • 2015-16 Colleges of Distinction list.[13]
  • Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 126-165 best Midwest college in 2018.[14]


Park Pirates[edit]

The athletic teams of the Park University main campus are called the Pirates. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) since the 2020–21 academic year. The Pirates previously competed in the American Midwest Conference (AMC) from 2009–10 to 2019–20; which they were a member on a previous stint from 1986–87 to 1993–94; and in the defunct Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) from 1994–95 to 2008–09.

Park competes in 18 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; and co-ed sports include eSports.

The Department of Athletics at Park University was led by Claude English, Director of Athletics, who was also the Pirates’ men's basketball coach from 1992 to 2005 and retired in 2021. From 1980 to 1984, English was the head men's basketball coach at his alma mater, the University of Rhode Island, and he played one season in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1970–1971.[citation needed]

Seven former Park Pirates competed for the Kansas City Comets of the Major Arena Soccer League as of 2020.[15]


  • 2018 Women's Volleyball (NAIA National Champions)
  • 2017 Men's Volleyball (NAIA Invitational Tournament)
  • 2014 Women's Volleyball (NAIA National Champions)
  • 2014 Men's Volleyball (NAIA Invitational Tournament)
  • 2012 Men's Volleyball (NAIA Invitational Tournament)
  • 2008 Men's Volleyball (NAIA Invitational Tournament)
  • 2003 Men's Volleyball (NAIA Invitational Tournament)

Park–Gilbert Buccaneers[edit]

The athletic teams of the Gilbert campus of Park University (Park–Gilbert) are called the Buccaneers.[9] The university added a college athletics program to the Gilbert, Arizona campus center in 2019.[9] After playing as independent institution during the 2019–20 academic year, the university announced membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the California Pacific Conference (Cal Pac) starting in the 2020–21 academic year.[10]

Park–Gilbert competes in 15 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.

Notable people[edit]

Faculty and staff[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "College Navigator - Park University". National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. Department of Education. 2017. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  2. ^ Park University Brand Guidelines (PDF). February 1, 2022. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  3. ^ Centennial History of Missouri: (the Center State) One Hundred Years in the Union, 1820-1921 By Walter Barlow Stevens –1921 – S.J. Clarke Publishing – Page 41 (available on
  4. ^ Decatur Daily Dispatch - Among Our Neighbors - 1890-09-11
  5. ^ Distance Learning Programs 2004. September 2003. ISBN 9780768911596. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Park University". Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  7. ^ - Park University 2006 Master Plan Archived 2007-10-09 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Park University Facts, Stats and Admissions Information Archived 2008-05-23 at the Wayback Machine,
  9. ^ a b c d e Staff (1 April 2020). "Park University to expand campus in downtown Gilbert". KTAR News. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  10. ^ a b VSN Staff (31 March 2020). "NAIA Approves Five Institutions for Membership". Victory Sports Network. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Best for Vets: Colleges 2016". Archived from the original on 21 January 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  12. ^ "PayScale College ROI Report". Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Colleges of Distinction". Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  14. ^ "Park University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Homegrown Talent: Pirates to Comets. Major Arena Soccer League. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  16. ^ Marsia Alexander-Clarke (2003). "Resume". Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  17. ^ "David Grace Biography - UCLA Bruins Official Athletic Site |". Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  18. ^ Tlustos, Genna (2023-07-20). "First woman appointed gaming commission chair". News Tribune. Retrieved 2023-07-22.
  19. ^ "Mayor Kay Barnes to Join Park University, Lead New Center". Park University. April 4, 2007. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved 2008-10-17.

External links[edit]