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MSU plans $20M advancement center

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Missouri State University this morning announced plans for a multimillion-dollar advancement center at the front of the Springfield campus.

Brent Dunn, MSU Foundation executive director and vice president for university advancement, said at a news conference at the school's Davis-Harrington Welcome Center that an anonymous donor pledged a seven-figure gift to help create the Clifton M. Smart III Advancement Center. The advancement center, which would have a price tag of $20 million to $25 million, would be built at the current site of a parking lot in front of Monroe Apartments, across Bear Boulevard from the Welcome Center, Dunn said.

"The facility should evoke a sense of institutional pride," he said, noting it's designed to complement the Welcome Center. "It's more than an office building. It's a home for alumni and friends."

Dake Wells Architecture Inc. is serving as project architect for the two story, 28,000-square-foot building, university officials say. A groundbreaking is expected to be held in early 2025 for the facility that's slated for completion in summer 2026. A general contractor was not announced this morning.

Speaking at the news conference, MSU President Clif Smart said "it was frankly stunning" to find out the anonymous donor wanted to name the building after him. The university's president since 2011, Smart is set to retire this summer.

"It's possibly the most significant honor that I've had," said Smart, who became emotional recalling his years leading the university. "I am so proud that my name will be associated with the university for the rest of our lives."

The building would house university advancement, the MSU Foundation and the Alumni Association, and plans include a 200-seat indoor event center, an outdoor space that can be used for gatherings and displays showing the history of MSU and donations to the school, Dunn said.

The university is fundraising for the project, he said, noting officials are halfway toward their $10 million goal.

Beverly Keltner, incoming chair of the MSU Foundation board, is among donors to the project. A conference room in the new center will be named for the Miller-Keltner families. Additionally, the event space would be named for late MSU donor Kenneth E. Meyer.

Dunn previously hinted at the project plans in February, when MSU announced the sale of the Meyer Alumni Center in downtown Springfield to Community Foundation of the Ozarks Inc., according to past reporting. The MSU Foundation plans to lease back its space in the building until its move to campus.

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