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Missouri State University President Clif Smart: MSU builds on its successes 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri State University (MSU) is building upon its foundation and successes to offer its students the best education possible, President Clif Smart said. 

Smart said the university is focused on expanding its workforce development by partnering with local groups and offering new programs to students. Smart said students’ enthusiasm and MSU’s impact on the Springfield area had grown over the years along with the school. 

“There’s a pride in our students that frankly wasn’t here when I started 10 and a half years ago. Our campus is branded, we’ve gone from a third-choice university to a first-choice university for lots of students in Missouri,” Smart said. “You just keep building on those successes and you keep that momentum going.”

Smart sat down for an interview with host Scott Faughn and The Missouri Times editor Kaitlyn Schallhorn Wednesday to discuss the fall semester, football season, and the university’s response to COVID-19. While masks were required across campus at the start of the year amid an influx of cases in the Springfield area, requirements have tapered off everywhere except for classrooms. 

Smart said the administration expected the orders to be fully lifted by the end of the year based on current case and vaccination rates, which he said had risen among staff and the community. 

“Our students have been great — we’ve had almost no compliance issues this semester with masking,” he said. “People have given us some grace and understood this. … We’ve been learning from experience and figuring out what metrics to follow rather than ‘it’s just Clif deciding or administrators deciding, it’s ‘okay, here are the critical metrics, let’s follow them and when cases go down and we hit a certain level we’ll change our rules,’ because if you’re trying to analyze this, that’s the way it made sense to us.”

Smart also discussed the contributions of lawmakers on both the state and national levels, praising the work of Springfield Reps. Crystal Quade and Betsy Fogle and Sen. Lincoln Hough as well as the legacy outgoing U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is leaving behind. 

“We can go around every community in Missouri and Senator Blunt has made a difference,” Smart said. “So many projects that are a part of economic development, infrastructure for roads and buildings, university support — We’re going to miss him tremendously. He’s been a great senator.”

Watch the full interview below, or listen to the podcast version here