From staff reports

The Missouri Southern Foundation has received a "seven-figure gift," it was announced Thursday. The money is to be used for construction of the new student recreation center and to support the business school.

The gift came from Robert Plaster, of Lebanon, who was an accounting student in the 1950s at what then was called Joplin Junior College.

School officials Thursday night would say only that it is the largest gift the foundation has received.

Rod Surber, Missouri Southern State University spokesman, said after a meeting of the Board of Governors on Thursday night that some donors provide gifts on the condition that specifics not be released, which he said he understood to be the case in this instance.

Curt Betebenner, director of the foundation, could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

In a statement issued after the meeting, MSSU President Julio Leon said: "It's very gratifying to see former students become so successful in the business world. He is one of the finest examples of what the free enterprise system can do."

In other business Thursday, the board:

Extended the contract of Leon for three more years after an annual evaluation.

Gave a 4 percent raise to university employees.

Named Dwight Douglas, of Joplin, chairman of the board for the 2006-07 fiscal year. Douglas Brooks, Joplin, was named vice chairman.

New names

The Board of Governors agreed to change the name of Matthews Hall to the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center. The business school will now be known as the Robert W. Plaster School of Business Administration.

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