NEOSHO, Mo. —
Crowder College on Thursday announced the name of its new McDonald County campus: James B. Tatum Hall, honoring a longtime member of its Board of Trustees.
“It’s basically a small portion of acknowledging the tremendous contributions that Mr. Tatum has made to Crowder College,” board President Andy Wood said.
Tatum, who had previously announced plans to resign from the board in January, marked his last board meeting Thursday. Now in his late 80s, he was instrumental in establishing the college 50 years ago, serving on the board for all 50 years and serving as board chairman for 45 years.
The 30,000-square-foot Tatum Hall is north of Jane on 40 acres near Interstate 49 and Missouri Highway 90. It includes six classrooms, two computer labs, a chemistry lab, a nursing skills lab, a bookstore, a 200-seat conference room, testing areas, student commons and study areas.
The campus will offer a nursing program and a general studies program, including specialty courses in business, agriculture and education. Joplin’s Missouri Southern State University and Springfield’s Missouri State University could also offer courses leading to bachelor’s degrees at their institutions, Crowder officials have said.
The college bought the property in 2008 for about $555,000. Construction on the building started earlier this year. It is estimated to cost $6 million, with financing from $1.5 million in private donations, $1.5 million from the college’s capital projects budget and $3 million from refinancing a 2011 bond.
The building is nearing completion, with construction crews finishing up interior work such as flooring and lighting, said Cindy Brown, the college’s director of public information.
A grand opening of Tatum Hall is set for 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, and a formal dedication is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19. The campus will open for the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 13.
Brown said preliminary enrollment information for the campus is not yet available.
“We’ve had continued growth in McDonald County in our other programs, so I see that it probably will grow,” she said.
Crowder has offered classes at various locations in McDonald County for years, including the high school in Anderson and Hometown Bank in Jane. Those locations will be closed, with classes relocated to the Tatum Hall campus, Brown said.
With an operation in Greenfield serving students in Dade and Cedar counties, the college boasts a presence in each of the nine counties in Southwest Missouri that the state defines as its service territory. Additions in recent years opened in Lamar, Monett and Mount Vernon, as well as in Greenfield. These off-campus sites offer a selection of general studies classes.
The main campus opened in Neosho about 50 years ago. Other branch campuses are in Nevada, Cassville and Webb City, in addition to the new McDonald County campus. Students can finish a two-year degree at these operations, which also offer small bookstores and financial aid counseling.
“We have found that access means everything for students,” Wood said. “The easier the access (and) the more availability that you have, more folks are going to college. If we can bring the college to the area, that allows folks that are single, raising kids (or) have jobs to go to school, whereas if they had to drive 25, 30 miles one way, they might not be able to do it.”
Crowder’s expansion has taken place alongside booming enrollment growth. The college has seen steadily increasing enrollment, from about 1,500 students a decade ago to more than 5,800 this year.
NEOSHO (MAIN CAMPUS): 601 Laclede Ave.
CASSVILLE: 4020 N. Main St.
NEVADA: 600 W. Edwards Place.
WEBB CITY: 600 S. Ellis St.
JANE: 194 College Road.
CARTHAGE: 1100 E. Airport Drive; 609 River St.
GREENFIELD: 418 College St.
LAMAR: Fourth Street and Maple Avenue.
MONETT: 2 David Sippy Drive.
MOUNT VERNON: 822 W. Mount Vernon Blvd.