It was standing-room only on the first floor of the new Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon Hall as the former Missouri governor praised Missouri Southern’s “rich past, great students and committed educators” and helped cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Local legislators, university administration, faculty and members of the community were on hand for the Jan. 31 event, celebrating the completion of the new building which opened in time for the start of the spring semester.

“We now have the greatest possible space for teaching and learning,” said Dr. Kerry Jiohnson, head of the Mathematics Department.

The $8.1 million, 20,000-square-foot building features classrooms designed for collaboration and innovative learning, a computer lab, faculty offices and mathematically-themed design elements. Faculty members in the department were consulted on the design of the building.

“What you notice when you enter the building is how modern, bright and open it is,” said Johnson. “This was done on purpose to relieve some of the stress that many students feel toward mathematics.”

Marble stressed the importance the latest addition to campus will hold for students studying in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas.

“No matter what career path these students take, they’ll need a firm grounding in math,” he said.

Marble cited Nixon’s efforts – along with former Sen. Ron Richard and the local legislative delegation – in creating a bipartisan effort that led to much-needed renovations to Reynolds Hall (which is connected by a skywalk to Nixon) and also securing funding for the new building. He also cited Nixon’s frequent presence in Joplin following the 2011 tornado.

“If there ever was a place you could call your second home, it’s Joplin,” said Marble.

“The beauty of math is that it’s so completely straightforward. You’re presented with a problem and you solve it. And that’s precisely the way Gov. Nixon operated during his time as governor.”

Nixon praised the project as yet another way the university is “charting a course for the future.”

“Institutions such as this, and buildings such as this is what the future is all about,” he said. “It’s about the long-term future.

“I appreciate the commitment of this region to higher education, and the commitment to making this place better. Not just for you, maybe not even your kids, but for your grandkids and people you don’t even know.”