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President Smart on Hammons’ Impact on MSU

John Q. Hammon Statue
John Q. Hammons Statue at the corner of JQH Parkway & E. St. Louis/Credit: Scott Harvey

Students at Missouri State University can’t help but know the name John Q. Hammons, given there are four campus facilities that bear his name. And while it’s hard to rank what contribution of Hammons has had the most significance, it’s easy to say the impact of each was vast; whether at MSU, around Springfield, or beyond with his many hotel developments.

But there’s no doubt Hammons loved his alma mater, donating millions for the creation of Hammons Student Center, Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, Hammons Hall, and JQH Arena. According to President Clif Smart, these buildings symbolized that love, and were intended to expand the university’s reach.

“You know I think we think of someone who was an incredible entrepreneur, who had that entrepreneurial spirit; who wanted Missouri State to be more than SMS at the time, you know, was one of the people who talked about being bigger and bolder and growing this university into a great regional university,” Smart said.

Smart, recalling a conversation with former MSU Athletic Director Bill Rowe, said people who know him best will remember Hammons’ intimate hands-on approach with projects. That was evident when he worked with Rowe on developing Hammons Field, which before it brought a minor league baseball team to town was used solely by the Missouri State Bears.

“He wanted a great facility for the Bears to play in, and personally visited with Bill [Rowe] all sorts of stadiums to help conceptualize that, to help in the design of that, and then ultimately to make sure that when that stadium was opened – before we had the Cardinals here – the Bears played at Hammons Field downtown.”

A university without the fingerprints of John Q. Hammons is inconceivable, says Smart, who pondered where certain athletic teams would play or where the symphony would perform if facilities that he helped create did not exist.

Listen to our entire interview with President Smart, part of our monthly series Engaging the Community, by clicking play above.