Missouri Southern rededication ceremony calls back to an earlier time

by Kristen Fidler Chart Staff Writer

Just as Missouri Southern plans to expand to a downtown location, the rededication ceremony marked the anniversary of the move from the old downtown campus to the new Mission Hills campus. 50 years ago, the community gathered just as they did on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, to celebrate Southern’s campus.

“The original dedication was a historic event. When the need to grow became apparent, the need was met due to the hard work and dedication [of] this terrific group of community members.” Dr. Alan Marble stated in his speech.

It was a cold morning as alumni and students alike huddled around the stage outside of Hearnes Hall to witness a tribute to the founders. Everyone waited eagerly to hear from the outstanding list of speakers. A student involved in Lion Ambassadors, a campus leadership organization, put a scarf around an older gentlemen’s neck. Many students held coffee cups in an attempt to warm themselves up.

The speaker list at the rededication included Richard Webster, Jr, son of Sen. Richard M. Webster Dr. Paul Shipman, Former Vice President for Business Affairs; Connie Godwin, daughter of Dr. Leon Billingsly; and Mary Jane Riggs, daughter of Fred G. Hughes. The speakers expressed how honored they were to stand there on that stage.

“Wow,” Godwin exclaimed. “What an incredible honor to be standing on this platform, where the forefathers stood.”

Despite the weather, the audience was drawn into the speakers as they told stories of the early days. Riggs reflected on being a child as the campus was being built, climbing piles of dirt and taking pictures in front of the sign.

“I remember every brick of every building that was laid on this campus,” Godwin stated.

The community proudly celebrated the rededication together as the children of Southern’s founders, Leon Billingsly, Fred G. Hughes, Richard Webster, George Spiva, Robert Eilis Young, Gene Taylor, and Elvin Ummel, joined together to light the lantern in unity.

Riggs concluded, “To quote Dr. Billingsly: the sky’s the limit. Here’s to him.”