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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

New Semester Brings New Landscape to Missouri State Athletics

Large transformations to Missouri State University’s athletic fields, academic and residential buildings will be on display as students return to campus next week for the start of the fall semester.

Renovations to the school’s football stadium, as well as construction of a soccer/track complex, field hockey and lacrosse complex, and sand volleyball courts, are funded in large part by the BEAR fee. The student approved initiative runs $50 per student per semester, and kicks in this fall, according to MSU President Clif Smart.

“Our promise to the students was we’d have the fields significantly completed by the start of school or we wouldn’t charge them and we’re going to have lived up to that.”

Smart notes that while all fields or playing surfaces will be ready for use, minor construction on seating and landscaping may remain in some areas.

The fee will generate approximately $1.6 million annually. Of that total, $200,000 annually will be used to enhance the student experience at athletic events through the creation of a student experience fund. The remaining $1.4 million will make the annual payments on approximately $20 million in bonds, which allowed for the construction of the four projects.

The fee accounts for about 80 percent of the funding, according to Smart, with the second biggest source coming from longtime MSU contributor Bobby Allison. And inside the Forsyth Athletics Center, the renovated Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Academic Achievement Center was funded through private donations.

Outside improvements to the athletic experience on campus, Smart points to renovations to Kentwood Apartments and Pummill Hall. Construction is also underway on two new facilities, a welcome center at the east entrance of campus and a third health building to house the MSU occupational therapy program. Dedication for all three facilities is scheduled for some time next year, and will open in fall 2015.

Additionally, officials have taken Sunvilla Tower offline this year to renovate each room, and are also renovating the 5th floor of the Morris Center downtown, which houses the Foreign Language Institute and English Language Institute.

“Part of the Art Department was housed there and that’s been moved down to Brick City. And both those language programs are busting at the seams and need new space and so we will be beginning that new project as well.”

Smart says next year Missouri State hopes to upgrade the school’s library, science laborites, and pending funding from the legislature, renovate both Ellis and Hill halls.

Hear this month's conversation with Smart, part of our monthly program Engaging the Community, by clicking play above.

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