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Smart: New Programs Highlight Value of Diversity, Athletic Experience

Field
The area north of Glass Hall will be converted into a new soccer, track and field complex, the first project as part of the recently passed BEAR fee/Credit: Scott Harvey

Missouri State University President Clif Smart says passage of recent initiatives by both the Board of Governors and students show the institution’s inclusiveness and desire to support new school endeavors. 

In October, the MSU Board of Governors unanimously passed the Sponsored Adult Dependent Program, which extends the school’s benefits to full-time staff members in same-sex relationships, as well as long-standing heterosexual couples who’ve yet to enter into marriage.

Smart says that while the decision is not cutting edge – MSU is the seventh public university in the state to offer these benefits – it was important to the university community.

“Our Board listened to our constituent groups; students, faculty, Staff Senate, all very supportive of this measure and had been for some time. And the Board thought this was the right time for us to move forward,” Smart said.

He added that the move also “levels the playing field” when it comes to recruiting new employees.

“We value diversity, and we want to provide a competitive benefit package for our employees so that we can compete for the very best folks out there.”

A sponsored dependent must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent to consent to contract; have shared the same permanent residence and the common necessities of life with the employee for at least 12 months; not be legally married to anyone else in any state; not be related by blood or a degree of closeness to the employee that would prohibit legal marriage in the State of Missouri; have a single dedicated relationship with the employee of at least 12 months duration; and not be a renter, boarder or tenant of the employee. 

MSU expects about one percent of employees, or 21 individuals, to sign up for the new program. Based on figures from a University of Missouri model, that would mean about an $80,000 annual cost to Missouri State. Enrollment is open through the end of November.

Smart also applauded the more than 80 percent of students who approved the B.E.A.R. fee. At $50 per semester, the Bear Experience and Recreation fee will do a couple of things; first being the renovation and construction of four new athletic facilities.

“And secondly, create an annual $200,000 student experience fund to begin to work on improving the game day experience and traditions of the university around its athletic and recreational programs.”

The Board of Governors is expected to approve the contracts for the new construction projects when it meets December 4.

The first such project would be a new soccer, track and field complex north of Glass Hall. Shortly thereafter, a new field hockey and lacrosse complex will be erected where the old women’s softball field is located. The goal is to complete construction of the two venues in the spring.

The next project would be to tear out the current track at Plaster Sports Complex, to make way for a new student section at football games.

“Importantly, all three of these facilities will also be open for recreational use; for intramural use, for student organizations to check them out, for free play,” Smart added.

Additionally, a new sand volleyball complex will go up just southwest of Hammons Student Center.

Hear President Smart’s full conversation by clicking play above, which is part of our monthly program Engaging the Community.