Missouri Southern State University will dedicate its James R. Spradling Center for Law and Politics at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.

The center opened in Webster Hall during the fall semester and is a valuable resource for Missouri Southern students, politicians and those in the legal profession, said Richard Miller, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Miller said the center will provide continuing legal education, which attorneys require for their bar license. The center also will furnish polling services for the political community as well as the opportunity to host roundtable discussions and town hall-style meetings. It will also host the university’s mock trial and legislative intern programs.

"We actually have a five-year plan, and at some point we'll almost be a full-service support for attorneys," Miller said. "There are things that we will roll out as we mature a little bit."

The center is named for the late James Spradling, a longtime Carthage attorney and former director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. Appointed to that post by former Gov. Christopher "Kit" Bond, Spradling served from 1973 to 1976 in the position. He also served as a Carthage municipal judge and in civic posts including president of the Carthage YMCA and Carthage Park Board. Additionally, he taught at Missouri Southern.

"He was instrumental in Jasper County and also the state," Miller said of Spradling. "He was one of the original faculty members in the political science department at Missouri Southern."

JoAnna Derfelt, associate professor of political science, is the center’s director; Nicholas Nicoletti, associate professor of political science, is assistant director. 

The dedication ceremony is sponsored by a grant from the Helen S. Boylan Foundation.

An open house for the local legal community is tentatively planned in January at the James R. Spradling Center for Law and Politics.

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Emily Younker is the managing editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.