Joplin, MO (SNS) – As the Spring 2016 semester began earlier this week, students who ordinarily would have had classes on the third floor of Reynolds Hall found a new home in the Reynolds Annex building, located on the southwest side of campus.

The Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University heard an update on the project during a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, before taking a tour of the annex, which will serve as a transitional space during the Reynolds renovation.

Last year, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced funding that will allow for the renovation of the second oldest building on campus, which houses the biology, environmental health, physical science and mathematics programs. House Bill 19 will provide $5.2 million for the project, while House Bill 17 contains an additional $1.5 million, which will be matched by the university.

“Right now, the third floor of Reynolds is empty,” said Rob Yust, vice president for business affairs. “The contractor will be in there over the course of the spring semester to do light demo work. After the spring semester and prior to the start of summer classes, they’ll be doing heavy demo.

“Hopefully by this time next year, we’ll be able to utilize the third floor and then empty the first floor for the same sort of process.”

While that work continues, students and faculty are being housed in the new annex. The 15 mobile units that make up the building were delivered to campus after being purchased from SEMA, said Bob Harrington, director of the Physical Plant at Missouri Southern.

“At the time, we were we were talking about remodeling Reynolds and trying to figure out how to handle the labs,” said Harrington. “Moving math classes is easy, but labs are a whole different project.

“The units we purchased were used by Joplin High School at Northpark Mall after the tornado. After the new high school opened, FEMA put them in storage and then gave them to SEMA.”

The university studied how the high school had utilized the units and came up with a plan to assemble them as a 12,766-square-foot space for labs, classrooms and faculty offices. Faculty members were brought in to help design the layout for the labs to best suit the needs of their students.

The annex was completed over Christmas break with the delivery of cabinets, tables, lab equipment and supplies for Reynolds Hall.

Yust said Missouri Southern is already looking beyond the renovations in Reynolds Hall when it comes to uses for the annex.

“Once work in Reynolds is complete and everybody is out of the annex into their permanent home, it can be used for other purposes,” he said. “We’ll always need transition areas for classes and to make room for further expansion.”

The meeting marked the first for Anita Y. Oplotnik, who was appointed to the Board of Governors earlier this month by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Oplotnik is a branch manager in Springfield for the financial advisor firm of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and has been with the firm since 2005. Prior to that, she was with Bank of America in Springfield from 1989 to 2005. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern and her MBA in finance from Missouri State University.

Her term will end Aug. 30, 2021.