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Millions in Foundation Gifts to Benefit MSU Facilities

Smart and Ayres
MSU President Smart (Right), with Nita Jane Ayres and her father, Joseph. Nita's gift, announced Wednesday, in memory of her grandmother, will establish the Fern G. Ayres Education Scholarship to benefit non-traditional students from Stone and Taney counties pursuing an education degree./Credit: Scott Harvey

The Missouri State University Foundation says it’s received over $8 million in gifts in recent months to support various student life initiatives, academic programs and athletics. KSMU's Scott Harvey has details.

During a press conference Wednesday morning, Vice President for Advancement Brent Dunn said the Foundation has raised $2.25 million for a new welcome center, currently referred to as the Student Admissions and Success Center, which will undergo construction sometime next semester.

“This building will act as a starting point for visitors to the campus. It’s 12,800 square feet of space that will house an auditorium and serve as an office complex for some of the admissions staff,” Dunn said.

A permanent name for the complex is sought, as are additional funds, with a total projected cost of $4 million. Officials will pursue bids on the project in the next 60 days.

See Wednesday’s complete press conference.

A contribution from Bobby Allison, which MSU President Clif Smart says represents a top 10 gift to the school, will support the recreational facility improvements currently underway as part of the BEAR fee passage. Allison and his late mother Betty hold the namesake for the university’s recreation complex on the northeast side of campus.

“He was so excited about what the first gift for those recreation fields on Cherry and National and the signage; how it completely changed the university, how people reacted to that that he wanted, I mean he was very interested in saying ‘what’s next, what’s the next project that I can be involved in?’”

Smart adds that with Allison’s gift, all primary outdoor recreation fields with bear him and his mother’s name.  That includes the area north of Glass Hall to be developed into a NCAA regulation soccer field and surrounded by a synthetic track, plus a new field hockey and lacrosse field north of and a pair of sand volleyball courts southwest of Hammons Student Center.

Other donations announced Wednesday include 157 acres of land north of Springfield to benefit the Darr School of Agriculture, funds to endown the Hanover Scholarship for Mathematics, and numerous estate gifts.

“I’m particularly excited about the many folks who in their estates left money that will benefit our students and make it possible for them to attend school,” said Smart.

Smart adds that private gifts will continue to be sought to expand Glass Hall, and fund many student scholarships and professorships, among others.