A familiar face has returned to Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) to lead its university communications team.
Dakota Bates, a 2012 graduate of MSU-WP and a former admission counselor, began his duties as director of university communications Tuesday, May 10. He replaces Ian Camejo, who resigned from the position in January. Bates’ hiring is pending approval by the Missouri State University Board of Governors.
“We’re excited to welcome Dakota back to the university,” said Chancellor Dennis Lancaster. “As a student, he was one of our most dynamic leaders, spearheading our Operation 50K community service initiative in honor of our campus’ 50th anniversary. As an admission counselor, he worked tirelessly to reach out to students across the state to share what he knew and experienced personally – that Missouri State-West Plains can help them achieve their dreams and goals. His experiences as a student, an employee and as a member of our Development Board give him unique insights into the university that will serve him – and us – well as we share our story with others.”
As the director of university communications, Bates will serve as the chief public relations and marketing officer for MSU-WP. He will be responsible for developing and implementing public relations programs in support of MSU-WP’s mission.
Additionally, he will be responsible for the coordination of activities that expand and enhance the image of the campus, including community relations, internal communications, marketing, news services, web content, electronic media, social media and publications.
“I am thrilled to be back on campus working alongside a wonderful group of people,” Bates said. “I owe much of my success to the faculty and staff who work at MSU-WP. It’s very cliché, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Every experience I had on campus was remarkable.”
A long history with MSU-WP
Bates first came to MSU-WP as a student after graduating from Alton High School in 2010. As a first-generation college student, he put the values of hard work he learned from his parents into practice in and out of the classroom.
“I worked hard at MSU-WP, and the professors challenged me. There were times I wanted to give up, but those same instructors who challenged me also served as my biggest cheerleaders. They cared about my success, and they helped me achieve my goals. I’ll always appreciate that,” he said.
During his time as a student, Bates also became very involved in extracurricular activities. He served as Student Government Association (SGA) president and received the Newman Civic Fellows Award and the Outstanding Student Leader Award for his efforts.
“I am living proof of the mission of MSU-WP,” he said. “This campus empowers students to achieve personal success and to enrich their local and global communities. That’s what this campus did for me. It helped me achieve success, but also recognize the importance of giving back to my community.”
From December 2011 to March 2013, Bates served as an information technology assistant at MSU-WP, helping students with their technology needs, including trouble-shooting problems.
In March 2013, Bates was hired as the campus’ admission counselor, a position he held for three years. During that time he recruited a diverse group of students from a variety of backgrounds and territories, including south-central Missouri, Kansas City, St. Louis and the bootheel region. He also assisted with Welcome Week activities and other campus events.
Tenure at HOEC
In October 2016, Bates left the university to take the member communications specialist position at Howell Oregon Electric Cooperative (HOEC). During his five-and-a-half-year tenure with HOEC, he was responsible for media relations, social media content, news services, the “Rural Missouri” magazine and all other member service programs.
“I greatly enjoyed my time at the cooperative,” Bates said. “The experience I gained is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. The opportunities the cooperative afforded me allowed me to become a better communicator and leader and helped me recognize my potential.”
Bates obtained his Associate of Arts in General Studies degree from MSU-WP in May 2012 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Management from Western Governors University in February 2022.
He and his wife of three years, Hannah, are expecting their first child, a son, on Sept. 1.
Bates said he is excited to bring a new energy back to MSU-WP. “We have a lot of individuals in area communities who may be thinking about attending college. Maybe there is someone who wants to advance in their current workplace. This institution can provide those opportunities to help them grow and develop their skills,” he explained.
“I want current and prospective students to realize the MSU-WP is THE place where they can pursue their passion and unleash their potential. This is a campus for ALL students. If you want to change your future, this campus will allow you to do that,” he added.