MSU science hall to be renovated, expanded after being renamed ... - News-Leader

MSU science hall to be renovated, expanded after being renamed ...  News-Leader

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday for the renovation and expansion of the building, home to the College for Natural and Applied Sciences.

A groundbreaking ceremony Friday marked a new era for the largest science building at Missouri State.

It will be renovated and expanded and was renamed the Roy Blunt Hall.

The retiring U.S. Senator was in Springfield for the event and to receive other honors. His name will now adorn the new building at the Jordan Valley Community Health Center plus the Midfield Terminal at the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

In addition to renaming the building that houses the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, the university also bestowed Blunt with the Bronze Bear Award. Both honors were approved by the MSU Board of Governors.

MSU President Clif Smart said, in a news release, that the university wanted to recognize Blunt's "staunch support of higher education and MSU, as well as for research in health and life sciences."

In a separate interview, Smart said Blunt advocated for federal funding to help Missouri State renovate and expand the building constructed 50 years ago and formerly known as Temple Hall.

Retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and Missouri State University President Clif Smart shake hands at a ground breaking for the expansion to Roy Blunt Hall, formerly known as Temple Hall, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

Blunt was instrumental in securing $56 million for the first phase of the project as well as endowed faculty chairs.

"He's also working right now to add $35 million to that in the new federal budget," Smart said. "If that passes, he will have brought close to $100 million to the university just for our science building renovation and endowed faculty positions. That is an unheard of number."

New labs, offices and space for students planned

The expansion project includes two phases: adding 77,000 additional square feet and then renovating portions of the existing 126,000 square feet.

Phase one is expected to cost $80 million and should be completed in fall 2024. The addition will include:

  • Modern and well-equipped labs;
  • Office suites for departments housed in the building (biology; geography, geology and planning; and chemistry and biochemistry);
  • Office space for graduate students;
  • Collaboration space for students and faculty.
Retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (center), Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (third from left), MSU President Clif Smart (left) and others break ground for the expansion to Roy Blunt Hall, formerly known as Temple Hall, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

Tammy Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, said the project is "transformational change" for the college.

“It will offer more space and upgraded facilities for everyone to continue working on interdisciplinary new ideas to solve real problems in science for the future," she said.

As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Blunt championed funding increases for STEM and computer science education, apprenticeship programs, TRIO and the Pell Grant program, including year-round Pell.

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Through his leadership role in Senate appropriations, Blunt had many accomplishments. They include adding $15 billion to the National Institutes of Health’s budget (an almost 50% increase) and quintupling Alzheimer’s research funding (increasing federal investment by $2.5 billion).

"His legacy in Washington, D.C. is centered around science and health funding and that is going to result in improved health and improved treatment and improved lives of 10s of millions of people," Smart said.

Retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (right) and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson talks during a ground breaking for the expansion to Roy Blunt Hall, formerly known as Temple Hall, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

Smart said the university has been significantly upgrading its science facilities through the McQueary Family Health Sciences Hall, the O'Reilly Clinical Health Sciences Hall and a partial renovation of the Ann Kampeter Health Sciences Hall.

He said improved undergraduate science spaces at Roy Blunt Hall will help with recruiting students. Smart said current research and teaching laboratories in that building are inadequate.

"Just like a basketball recruit can look at the Great Southern Bank Arena and the locker room and the film room and say 'Wow, what a great facility, I would love to play here,' a science student, a biology student, a geography student, a chemistry student can look at the labs at Temple Hall and said 'This looks less than my high school, this looks like it is 50 years old,'" Smart said.

"Students want and should have the best facilities that facilitate learning."

Continuing to honor Allen Temple

Temple Hall was named after Allen Temple. He served as head of the university’s science department for nearly 40 years in the early 1900s. He was a pioneer in the field and an enthusiast for advances in communications technology.

MSU said while the building will no longer bear his name, Temple’s legacy will carry on.

“We’ll continue to honor him with a prominent display in the current building’s atrium and name it the Temple Atrium,” Smart said.

* This article was originally published here

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