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Plaster gift to go toward Student Union renovation

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A seven-figure gift from Lebanon businessman Robert W. Plaster will go to fund the renovation and expansion of the Student Union at Southwest Missouri State University, according to a news release from SMSU.

The gift, announced at a May 27 press conference, will be made through the Robert W. Plaster Foundation. The majority of the funds 80 percent will go to the Student Union renovation, with the remaining 20 percent going to support the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex on the SMSU campus.

The Student Union will be renamed the Robert W. Plaster Student Union in recognition of Plaster's gift, the release stated.

This is the university's second major gift from Plaster, chairman of the board of Evergreen Investments LLC, who made a seven-figure gift to expand the former Briggs Stadium, now known as the Plaster Sports Complex.

The renovation and addition, totalling $12.1 million, will be complete in 1999. The new food court area is on schedule to open in time for spring classes in January 1999 and the whole facility, except for the theater, will be finished in time for the fall 1999 semester, according to SMSU. The theater addition will be completed in the fall of 1999.

The renovations and additions will provide additional gathering space for students, an enhanced ballroom, recreational space, a new, 500-seat auditorium, retail outlets and more, the release stated.

Features of the renovation include open staircases, two atrium areas and skylights.

"We appreciate very much Mr. Plaster's investment in a facility that will serve many university constituencies, especially our current and future students," said SMSU President John Keiser in the release. "The gift committed from Mr. Plaster and the Plaster Foundation will allow us to make the renovated Student Union something very special for our faculty, staff and students, as well as the Springfield community."

The existing Student Union was built in 1951 for a student body of approximately 1,400. Two major additions have been made over the years to accommodate the growing enrollment one in the 1960s and one in the 1970s. It now serves 16,500 students plus campus visitors, the release stated.

INSET CAPTION:

The renovations will provide additional gathering space, an enhanced ballroom, recreational space, a 500-seat auditorium, retail outlets and more.

PHOTO CAPTIOThe renovation of and addition to the Student Union is a project totaling $12.1 million, made possible by a sizable donation from Robert Plaster.

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