Nixon Hall Groundbreaking


Courtesy of Missouri Southern

From left to right: Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert, Missouri State Senator Ron Richard, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, and University President Alan Mar- ble dig in for the ceremonial ground breaking event for the new academic building named after the governor. 

Matt Barney

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon was on the Missouri Southern campus Tuesday, Nov. 29, to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a building that will bear his name. Construction on the 20,000 square foot Nixon Hall is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017 and will be completed in time for classes in the fall of 2018.

Nixon Hall will be located adjacent to the existing Reynolds Hall and connected to it via a skywalk. The new academic building will house offices and classrooms for science, technology, engineering, and math programs, also known as STEM.

“This project is a shining example of this University’s, and our state’s, commitment to preparing students for success in a rapidly changing global economy,” said Nixon.

The governor declared that competition for the jobs of the future is global and will be won by the states and nations with the most skilled, creative, and best-educated students.

“Education is the best economic development tool there is,” he said.

Missouri Southern President Alan Marble thanked Nixon and explained the University was naming the building in Nixon’s honor in recognition of his efforts to assist Joplin and Missouri Southern following the 2011 tornado and his efforts to secure the $16 million in funding needed to build the new facility.

“Today marks a time when the planning stage ends and the real work begins,” said Marble. “This is not about merely turning dirt on a new campus building; rather, we’re helping to create incredible future opportunities for our terrific students.”

Nixon will become the second Missouri governor to have an academic building named after him. The first was Warren E. Hearnes, who was governor at the time of the construction of the campus in 1965-66 and signed the law which made Missouri Southern a state institution. 

During his speech, Nixon said that Missouri Southern has become an anchor of academic excellence for this region and a source of strength for a community which had inspired him, “and quite frankly, the world,” he said

Along with Nixon and Marble, several other dignitaries were also present for Tuesday’s ceremony, including the Board of Governors, state Sen. Ron Richard, Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert, and former mayor and current city councilmember Melodee Colbert-Kean.

“This building will give us a huge injection for the city,” said Colbert-Kean. “We’re behind right now as it is, and this building will be a door opener for students looking for STEM opportunities but who may have previously looked away from Southern due to the lack of faculty or facilities.”

The two-story Nixon Hall will include elevated walkways large enough to be furnished. Renovations of Reynolds Hall displaced many classes, but they are slated to reunite under Reynolds and the addition.

“With all the work that’s been done here and the fact that it’s a building that’s going to last a long time and make a difference for folks; to name it after you is one of those things that you don’t get up in the morning thinking about,” said Nixon. “But when you look back on a career in public service, having these concrete examples of progress that has been made when you were governor is something that’s very important to me.”