The Robert W. Plaster Foundation has pledged two substantial seven-figure gifts to the Missouri Southern Foundation, it was announced Friday during a regular Board of Governors meeting.


The Robert W. Plaster Foundation has pledged two substantial seven-figure gifts to the Missouri Southern Foundation, it was announced Friday during a regular Board of Governors meeting.

The gifts, which represent the largest contribution ever made to the foundation, will be used to help fund the construction of a baseball field and a multi-purpose athletic facility adjacent to the football field and to renovate Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

"We feel these projects are important for the well being of our student-athletes," said Rod Anderson, chair of the MSSU Board of Governors, "and these gifts are a critical first step in the funding process."

Plaster, who was an accounting student at Joplin Junior College in the 1950s, was known as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. He formed Empire Gas Corporation in Lebanon, and before his death in 2008, he made significant contributions to educational institutions across the region. Buildings carrying the Plaster name are found at Crowder College, College of the Ozarks, Missouri State University, Southwest Baptist University and Missouri Southern. The Robert W. Plaster Foundation carries on his philanthropic interests.

In recognition of these generous contributions, the board approved a resolution to name the southeast corner of the Missouri Southern campus, which encompasses many of the current athletic facilities, the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex. In the future, providing additional funding is secured for a major renovation, Fred G. Hughes Stadium will become known as the Robert W. Plaster Stadium. Until such time, it will remain Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

"Mr. Hughes played a pivotal role in the creation of the University," said Anderson. "I know there was tremendous consideration given before recommending a potential change in the name of the stadium. Its important that people know he will continue to be honored on this campus, as he should be."

"Names on facilities sometimes need to change when the facility has reached the end of its useful life," said Dr. Mark Parsons, vice president for development and executive director of the Foundation. "According to the Stadium Strategic Plan Committee, the stadium has reached that point. We know public funding will not be used for a stadium renovation so private funding must be sought. Mr. Hughes' name will remain on campus, however, as an alternative naming opportunity will be developed and granted."

The stadium at Missouri Southern was named the Fred G. Hughes Stadium in 1978 in commemoration of his role in the creation of the University and his service on the original Board of Trustees and Regents. While a number of options can be developed, one alternative naming opportunity being considered for Hughes is naming an entrance plaza connected to the renovated football stadium in his honor.