Southern on path to brighter tomorrow


Liz Spencer | The Chart

University President Alan Marble discusses the direction of Missouri Southern under his leadership. After being the interim president, Mable took the reins and has since been part of influential changes.

In the little more than two years that I have been at Missouri Southern — first as interim president before being named the University’s fifth president last June – I have been proud to serve at a time of great change in terms of the size of the campus, our academic offerings and vision for the future.

The most visible changes have come in the form of new additions to the campus.

We broke ground for the new residence hall complex in the spring of 2014, finished construction on time and on budget, and held a ribbon cutting just days before classes began for the start of the fall 2015 semester.

As we gathered to celebrate the opening of “The Quads,” students were moving in to their new homes, and their excitement was truly energizing and contagious.

The 51 four-bedroom apartments offer a common living area and kitchen, a washer and dryer, and other amenities designed to meet our students’ needs.

And, fundamentally the new residence halls serve to reinforce our goal of becoming a residential campus as well as a commuter campus in our continuing effort to serve all students in the best way possible.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, we will celebrate another milestone with a ribbon cutting for our new End Zone facility at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

It houses locker rooms for multiple sports, an athletic training room, meeting rooms, coaching staff offices, the athletic Hall of Fame, and space for events such as alumni gatherings.

Thanks to our partners at Freeman Health System and several other generous donors, it’s a great addition for our student athletes and will serve to enhance our recruiting efforts going forward.

Other improvements on the athletics side include this past spring’s dedication of Warren Turner Field, our new, on-campus state-of-the-art baseball stadium, and the new football field turf made possible by a generous gift from Mercy Health System.

We’ve worked to preserve a 14-acre tract of prairie land for use by the biology and environmental health students, and moved forward with plans to make some much-needed renovations to Reynolds Hall.

The terribly valuable coursework offered in Reynolds is in very high demand, and the $8.2 million in improvements to lab spaces and classrooms will allow us to meet the needs of students seeking degrees in all STEM-related fields.

During the renovation, some students will need to use the mobile classrooms put in place in the parking lot behind the physical plant. So, please forgive this inconvenience and bear with us as we make some dramatic improvements to a facility that will benefit many generations of future Lions.

Other changes may not be as apparent but are no less important.

The university is working in partnership with the Springfield-based Great Game of Business to develop and implement an “open book management” model for use across campus.

Called the Great Game of Education, the program will help Missouri Southern employees interpret all of our financial data and understand how their individual roles impact these critical numbers.

The Great Game gives everyone a voice and vested interest in our future, provides a pathway for enhanced shared governance with faculty and staff, and offers an opportunity to expand the number of seats at the table for the President’s Council, which will soon become the University Council and include members of the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and other campus offices.

In February, we welcomed Dr. Brad Hodson as Missouri Southern’s executive vice president. He’s leading a restructured division which brings together all of the offices responsible for the advancement of the University.

This summer, Dr. Paula Phillips Carson arrived on campus to serve as our new provost and vice president for academic affairs. In her role, she is overseeing academic programming and faculty initiatives as the University’s chief academic officer.

Both Brad and Paula bring a wealth of experience and expertise to their positions and I’m proud that they have joined the Lion family.

It’s very rewarding to see the hard work of so many people pay off in the extraordinary growth in student enrollment we are experiencing this fall. We have a record number of new freshmen enrolled this semester and the total number of credit hours taken by all students increased a remarkable 7 percent. Missouri Southern is clearly on the move!

But, most important to me, our graduation rates are on the rise. This is critical because college graduates typically earn about $1 million more over the course of their working lifetimes than high-school graduates. Yes, $1 million dollars more! That’s why the success of our students is at the heart of what we do here each day at Missouri Southern.

The last two years have been a time of change at this University, and I am proud – both as University president and an alum – to be a part of this exciting time. It truly is a great day to be a Lion!