Leaders discuss conversion of former hospital

John Hacker

The new leadership team taking office at Missouri Southern State University spoke briefly Friday about the process of converting the old McCune-Brooks Hospital building in Carthage to the Missouri Southern State University-Carthage campus.

A committee of local residents and university officials met in December 2007 to start discussing the programs they would like to see at the old building.

Dr. Richard McCallum, vice president for academic affairs at Missouri Southern, led that meeting, but he will leave the university March 31 to take over as president of Dickinson State University in North Dakota.

Incoming vice president for academic affairs John Messick said he will likely be involved in the process, although his role had not been established as of Friday.

"Certainly a number of people on campus are talking about how best to use that facility," Messick said. "I'm so new in that process it's probably premature to comment."

Current plans call for the Missouri Southern Crime Lab to move into the emergency room and radiology lab areas of the old hospital.

Terri Agee, interim president and soon to be senior vice president for business affairs, said she's optimistic that the MSSU-Carthage campus will be extremely successful once it gets off the ground.

"We're actively discussing the possibilities for the MSSU-Carthage campus," Agee said. "I think we've got some great ideas and we'll be bringing some of educational opportunities to the area. We've ordered a sign that says Missouri Southern State University-Carthage campus, and we can't wait to display that sign and start offering educational programs."

Incoming President Bruce Speck, currently vice president for academic and student affairs at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, said he was made aware of the plans for the former hospital during interviews with the search committee, the board of governors and the public.

“Clearly we will be a presence in Carthage because of that facility," Speck said. "Certainly at this point I don't think we've made the pinpoint plans about what we're going to do there, but there's no doubt that that is going to be very important to our mission, that we connect with the Carthage community, that we give opportunities to the people in that community, and we are hot on that."

Carthage Press