Missouri State University is set to receive $50 million in federal funding to help pay for an expansion and renovation of its Temple Hall, home of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.
The funding — along with millions more for MSU-related projects in Springfield and West Plains — was secured by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and is part of the federal FY2022 omnibus funding bill. President Biden is expected to sign the budget by Tuesday to avoid a government shutdown.
Temple Hall is a four-story building built in 1971 with about 126,000 square feet. The renovated and expanded Temple Hall will be called Ozarks Health and Life Science Center.
In an interview Saturday with the Springfield Daily Citizen, Missouri State President Clif Smart called the news a “game changer” for the university.
“It’s the largest appropriation directed to Missouri State University from the federal government ever,” Smart said. “It may be the largest appropriation for a single science building at a university of any kind. It’s one of the biggest ever,” he added.
“I never thought we’d be able to do the renovation of Temple Hall because it was just going to be too much money,” Smart said. “Then all of the sudden, we’re going to have $50 million to do that. And we’ll leverage that money with state money because the governor has $30 million that we’d have to match in his budget. So all of the sudden, between state and federal money, we have $80 million to do a tremendous renovation and expansion of our science buildings.”
When Smart detailed plans for the project in his Clif’s Notes blog last October, he then estimated the project would cost at least $60 million. Since that time, rising construction costs and the discovery of other parts of Temple Hall that need work have increased the expected cost to $80 million, he said Saturday.
Smart said the groundbreaking will happen by the end of this year.
The first phase of the project will include a 65,000-square-foot addition that would house research laboratories, student space and offices.
The second phase will include renovations to Temple Hall’s existing common areas and public spaces.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Smart said. “Just like a basketball player can look at the arena and the locker room and compare, so can science students. They can go and see what you have in laboratory space, and I think it will help us grow our undergraduate and graduate science programs and help us grow our research work.
“And frankly, none of this occurs but for Sen. Blunt’s tremendous work on getting this into the appropriation bills.”
Blunt, a Springfield Republican who is retiring at the end of this term, is an MSU alum, graduating with a master’s degree in history in 1972. He toured Temple Hall and met with faculty last fall.
Blunt announced the funds for MSU’s Temple Hall project, along with several other Missouri priorities, in a news release last week that received little attention.
In addition to the $50 million for Temple Hall, the funding bill includes another $3 million for a faculty endowment for Health and Life Sciences to help MSU hire and retain faculty, $2.5 million for a hospital simulation at MSU’s West Plains’ campus and $525,000 for equipment and technology upgrades at the West Plains’ campus.
Smart pointed out there’s another $28 million included in the funding bill for the university’s partners at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center.
“The driving force for all of these projects is Sen. Blunt,” Smart said. “It makes a difference that you have a senator who’s on the appropriations committee that wants to bring money home for critical projects to his state. And that’s what we have in Sen. Blunt.
“He’s done that over and over and over again for communities all across our state,” Smart added, “but particularly for Springfield and for Missouri. And this doesn’t happen without him.”