Alan Marble, who announced plans to retire next summer as president of Missouri Southern State University, will be missed.

The first MSSU grad to serve as its president, he came aboard after retiring from Crowder College and after a tumultuous turn at the MSSU helm by Bruce Speck, who was fired with two years left on his contract.

Marble's style — marked by his willingness to listen — was just what was needed.

Marble took over in 2014 after a year as interim president, and he'll leave behind a larger campus with a number of accomplishments, including opening a new residence hall and Nixon Hall, and the creation of Yours to Lose, a partnership with the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, as well as reaccreditation of the university for 10 years by the Higher Learning Commission.

He told this paper that goals for the coming year include taking steps to ensure that the $1.8 million one-time allocation MSSU received in state funding this year becomes part of the institution's core funding, and to make the university's model of shared governance a permanent part of its organizational structure.

"Alan's passion for education, commitment to the community, business acumen and servant-leadership have positioned Missouri Southern for a bright future," Bill Gipson, chairman of the Board of Governors, said in a statement. "His tireless efforts will leave a lasting legacy at Missouri Southern."

We agree.

And as the board considers what it wants in a new president and launches its search, we offer one thought: We need Missouri Southern. We need it to thrive, and first and foremost, we need it to remain low cost.

For all that this region has going for it, Southwest Missouri remains a low-wage area, and the new president's priority, whatever his or her other skills and goals, should be ensuring that Southern remains an affordable educational bargain within reach for area residents.

Education is the best way we know to change that low-wage dynamic.

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