Skip to main content

Spradling Center for Law and Politics

Spradling Center student

About the Spradling Center 

The James R. Spradling Center for Law & Politics is located in Webster Hall on the campus of MSSU.

The Center for Law and Politics is dedicated in memory of James R. Spradling, a longtime Carthage attorney and former director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. Appointed by then-Missouri Governor Christopher "Kit" Bond, Spradling served from 1973-1976 in the position. He also served as Carthage Municipal Judge and in civic posts including president of the Carthage YMCA and Carthage Park Board. He also taught as an adjunct professor at MSSU.

Programs Overseen:

  • Mock Trial program
  • Constitution Day programming
  • Legislative Intern program
  • Law Day activities
  • Workshops and other events

The Center will also sponsor a program allowing attorneys to become "fellows" of the Center.

The Center for Law & Politics connects students, practitioners and the community at the "intersection of theory and practice.

JoAnna Derfelt, assistant professor of political science at MSSU, serves as Director of the Spradling Center.

"We are really excited for this opportunity for our students and our professional partners," Derfelt says. "This helps us develop our civic connections and provides a much-needed resource to the professional legal community."

Advisory Board Members:

  • Jake Heisten, Field Representative for Representative Billy Long
  • Dean Dankelson, Jasper County Prosecutor
  • Charlie Davis, Missouri State Representative
  • Michael Gayoso, Crawford County, Kansas Attorney
  • Doug Gatewood, former Kansas State Representative and advisor for Four State Orthopaedic Services
  • Anna Sanderson, Alumni Member

About James R. Spradling

James R. Spradling, a Carthage, Mo. attorney served for three years as director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. Appointed by then-Gov. Christopher "Kit" Bond, Spradling is credited with stabilizing the Revenue Department which was in tumult due to the patronage system. James Spradling recommended that the Missouri General Assembly and the Governor make a long-term commitment to the Department of Revenue. Spradling retired from the state position in 1976 and returned to Carthage to practice law. He passed away in August 2010.

For More Information:

For further details on this or other continuing legal education opportunities at MSSU, legal professionals should call the Center at 417-625-3081 or