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Missouri Southern Board Names Facility for Ron Richard

By: Mark Scott | Published: November 10, 2023 | Categories: Press Release
Missouri Southern Board Names Facility for Ron Richard

Missouri Southern Board Names Facility for Ron Richard
North End Zone Facility to be named for Former Senator, MSSU Governor

JOPLIN, MO. (11-10-2023) – The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors voted Friday to rename a building on campus in honor of Ron Richard, their former colleague and a well-known community leader.

In a unanimous vote, the Governors chose to rename the North End Zone facility in the campus’ Plaster Sports Complex to become the Ron Richard Athletic Center. A formal naming ceremony, along with appropriate signage associating the building with Richard, will take place in early 2024.

Governor Richard was appointed to the MSSU Board of Governors on Nov. 6, 2019, and served until his death earlier this year. He previously served in both the State Senate and House of Representatives – the only person to ever hold the top leadership position in both bodies -- and as Mayor of Joplin. He was an alumnus of Missouri Southern as well.

“The North End Zone is a very visible and active facility on Missouri Southern’s campus, so it is fitting that this facility will be renamed for Ron Richard, who was extremely visible and active in our community,” said Governor Anita Oplotnik, the chair of MSSU’s Board of Governors. “He loved Joplin and he loved Southern, and we’re honored to be able to recognize and remember him in this meaningful way.”

The North End Zone facility is not only the epicenter of the university’s athletic administration and football operations; it is often utilized by the community for various events, meetings and celebrations due to its large community rooms and public access areas. The building is also centrally located at the intersection of Newman and Duquesne roads on the east side of Missouri Southern’s campus.

The naming idea was originally circulated in a letter to Missouri Southern President Dean Van Galen from Dan Stanley, a friend of Richard and a Southern graduate. He suggested the North End Zone be named for Richard because of the building’s strong ties to the community, as well as how the symbolism of athletics was reflected through Richard’s career in public service.

“Ron was a fierce competitor and he competed every day to see the best ideas embraced and adopted in business, in government, and in every organization in which he served and led,” Stanley wrote. “To look out on the football field and the track facilities and watch the intense competition, personal sacrifice, and total dedication of every athlete and every team is something that Ron would relish. It is the perfect setting to associate with Ron Richard.”

In other business Friday, the Board of Governors approved proposals to begin a Masters of Science in Sports and Recreation Management and a Graduate Certificate program in Artificial Intelligence. Van Galen said these programs would fulfill a need within the region and community and would provide additional career opportunities to those interested in the programs. The programs will also potentially boost enrollment, Van Galen said.

The Board also received and approved the outcome of the university’s annual audit, which was conducted by FORVIS. The audit received an unmodified opinion with no audit accounting adjustments – which is often referred to as a “clean audit,” Van Galen said.

“I am grateful for our Financial Services Team, Financial Aid, and others across campus who contributed to this positive outcome,” Van Galen said. “It is important that our university demonstrate financial integrity and compliance, and the audit report approved today is external validation that we are doing well.”