Mansion added to national historic register

The campus’ historic mansion – built in 1920 by Lucius P. “Buck” Buchanan – has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

A ceremony was held on Oct. 21 to formally mark the achievement. Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex and member of the MSSU Alumni Association board, spearheaded the lengthy application process.

“To be listed, a building has to have historical significance,” he said. “I feel 100 percent that the mansion has that. For the university, it links the past to the present.”

Built in 1920 by Lucius P. “Buck” Buchanan, a wealthy mining developer, the mansion was constructed with a Spanish motif. It was reportedly inspired by a house he saw in Puerto Rico.

It was later purchased by Frank C. and Juanita Wallower. One of the leading developers of the Tri-State Mining District, Frank Wallower set up a generating plant to produce electricity for Mission Hills, and the mansion was one of the first homes in the Joplin area to be air conditioned.

The 320-acre Missouri Southern State College campus opened in 1967, with the residence housing classrooms and offices, including the office of Leon C. Billingsly, the college’s first president. In 2004, a project began to renovate the Mission Hills Mansion, which had fallen into disrepair. The oldest building on campus became the Ralph L. Gray Alumni Center and the permanent home of the MSSU Alumni Association, which raised approximately $1.8 million toward the structure’s renovation.

Alumni Fall 2016

Nodler named emeritus archivist

Charles Nodler, professor and archivist for MSSU’s Spiva Library, has been approved for Emeritus status by the Academy of Certified Archivists based in Albany, N.Y.

Nodler, who recently began phased retirement, began working at Missouri Southern in 1978 after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Southern. He earned a master’s degree in history and a certificate in Archival Administration from the University of Texas-Arlington, as well as a master of library science degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia.

“I’ve always liked history and it seemed, going through school, to be one of my best subjects,” he says. “The fact that I have enjoyed my occupation has made a big difference in the way I have felt about my work.”

Nodler says although some items in archives don’t see the light of day, others remain particularly relevant. “The mining maps, which go back to the 1800s, are most heavily used,” he states. “They show the locations of the lead and zinc mines. They are used every week by people in the community. If there is any new construction or road-building, the people in charge of the construction need to know the location of those mines.”

Nodler says MSSU’s archives include a number of Presidential letters in the collection from former Congressman Gene Taylor. The Bailey collection from Carthage includes two hand-signed letters from Harry Truman when he was presiding judge of Jackson County.

Nodler says the move away from paper records and the emergence of new technologies in recent decades have created new challenges for archivists.

“There is a new field called digital history because digital formats are constantly changing,” he explains. “You have to continually adapt to stay up to date.” Nodler is a member of the Board of Directors of the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond and the Gene Taylor Museum Board in Sarcoxie. He set up the archives at the Carver Monument and served as a consultant for the creation of the archives of Newton County.

Alumni Fall 2016

Logan Moon steps up for first season with Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Batter Up!

In June of 2014, Logan Moon – then a senior centerfielder for the Lions – was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the first-year player entry draft.

In short order, he found himself playing rookie ball in Burlington, N.C. He skipped advanced rookie ball the next year, playing the following season for the Wilmington Blue Rocks – an advanced Single-A team in Wilmington, Del.

He played with the Kansas City Royals during five spring training games and was assigned to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals – a Double-A team in Springdale, Ark. From there? Moon says he’s more focused on playing his best, but he knows what the stakes are.

“Thinking long term is tough in baseball. There are so many different scenarios that can happen,” he said. “Obviously, the next step is working hard and eventually move up to AAA. After that, you either go to the majors or you’re done. Those are the biggest and hardest steps to make.”

Moon recently spoke with Crossroads about playing for the Naturals.

On playing AA baseball

“Double A is where it starts to get as competitive as it can get. It’s tough, and it’s a good league to judge for yourself if you can actually play for the Major League. About 15 of the guys I’ve faced pitching-wise made their Major League debuts this year.”

“It’s tough, but that’s what the Double-A and Triple-A coaches are for … they’re there for our development to make better players. They know what it takes and want the best for us. They do what they can to make sure we’re taking the right steps and doing the right things to become major league ballplayers.”

Missouri Southern’s coaching staff

“I still have an amazing relationship with the coaching staff. Even though I was there just one year, they made me feel like I had already been there for three. I still talk to those guys every week – about personal things, family and friends. But also we talk about what the Royals have been teaching me, what I’ve learned to do in this or that situation. We’re constantly talking about baseball.”

Staying connected with fans

“Springdale is a pretty big town and the fans are awesome. But I run into a lot of people who come down to say hi, who tell me they’re going to Missouri Southern, or that they have family in Joplin. That kind of thing is cool.”

Alumni Athletics Fall 2016

Southern Safari group travels to Cuba

A Lovely Country

Once isolated from the United States by politics and ideology, Cuba is opening again.

A group of 19 Southern Safari participants spent eight days visiting the island nation during the summer. The trip was organized by the Missouri Southern Institute of International Studies.

The group landed in Havana and immediately was swept up in the beautiful colors, bright lights and island architecture of Cuba. The travelers visited a school, a senior center, a medical clinic, a farmers’ market, a community art project, an Afro-Cuban cultural center and an artist’s studio, as well as the finca (ranch) of the late Ernest Hemingway near Havana.

In addition to the capital city, participants took a group trip to the scenic rural Vinales valley west of the nation’s capital to see life in rural Cuba, where sugar cane and tobacco ripen to maturity.

Dr. David Locher, a sociology professor who served as trip director, said Cuba has undergone countless changes since his last journey there 15 years ago.

“Cubans now are allowed to earn money on their own in ways they were not several years ago,” he said. “They can run restaurants out of their homes, use their cars as taxis and sell things they make. They’re frustrated because the changes they want to see coming aren’t coming fast enough.”

Most of the restrictions have been lifted on the travel routes of foreign tourists, he said. “There is really no place you are not allowed to go. There is no one who is afraid to talk to you. Cubans are very patriotic but also very open about what they don’t like and the problems they feel need to be fixed.”

Dr. Virginia “Gingy” Laas, a retired Missouri Southern professor who made the trip, said the beauty of the island is amazing. “The countryside is beautiful. It’s a lovely, lovely country,” she said.

She said Americans may find that, despite its welcome to American tourists, the Cuban people may not want to be overrun by the vast amount of merchandise and temptations from its neighbor to the north.

“Our whole long history with Cuba is not exactly good, from the Spanish American war to today,” Laas said. “How and in what ways Cuba will change is up to the Cubans.”

Alumni Fall 2016 Study Abroad

DR. Hal Bodon — Lion-Hearted Award

Dr. Hal Bodon was the first head coach of the Missouri Southern men’s soccer program, after introducing the sport as a club in 1972.

The team’s first games as an official athletic program were played in 1976 and he served as the head coach for 11 seasons. He had a career record of 138-72-21, resulting in a .637 winning percentage.

As an instructor, Bodon taught French and German, theories of second language learning and oral communication. He chaired the annual Foreign Language Field Day for several years and helped to establish Missouri Southern’s annual Honors Convocation.

Following his retirement in 1996, he and his wife worked as missionaries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. From 2010-12, Bodon served as director of the Huntsman World Senior Games Soccer Tournament in St. George, Utah, and also as an adjunct professor at Dixie State University.

In 1998, a dedication was held for the Hal Bodon Soccer Field at Missouri Southern. He was inducted into the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Alumni Athletics Fall 2016

Kevin Hooks – Outstanding Alumnus Award

Kevin Hooks, ’92, serves as president and CEO of the Las Vegas Clark County Urban League.

After graduating with a degree in communication, he worked for State Farm for six years, where he became the senior public affairs manager; and later as general manager for Urban Elevation. He then served as vice president and general manager for UPP Entertainment Marketing, introducing celebrity brand placement protocols for events such as the Sundance Film Festival, People’s Choice Awards and MTV Video Music Awards.

He then took on the role of executive vice president at Weber Shandwick, where he was in charge of spearheading the integrated marketing initiatives through consumer, entertainment and multi-cultural disciplines.

A member of the Urban League at the national level since 1997, he became president and CEO of the Las Vegas Urban League in 2013. He serves as the principal spokesperson for communicating the organization’s mission, programs and services within the community. Services offered include GED support, helping clients attend college to learn a trade and teaching application and interview skills, as well as offering literacy, child development and financial empowerment programs.

Along with his participation in various community organizations, Hooks was recently appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval as chairman of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission.

Alumni Fall 2016

Mary Alice Hadley, 1947’s ‘Pigskin Princess,’ recalls time at Joplin Junior College

Mary Alice Hadley demurs for a moment when asked about the two years she spent as a student at Joplin Junior College. As she begins thumbing through a copy of the college’s 1947 yearbook, however, the memories come flooding back.

Today, Hadley lives alone in a retirement village in Lee’s Summit, Mo. But 71 years ago, she was a Neosho High School graduate whose firm belief in the importance of a good education was as strong as it is today.


It was the fall of 1945, and news of Japan’s surrender – bringing World War II to an end – had spread across the country.

“There were five of us girls who commuted to Joplin Junior College together,” says Hadley, who was then Mary Alice Dabbs. “They didn’t have dorms then, so you had to stay at home and commute or live in Joplin.

“One of the girls bought a used Studebaker and we commuted for two years in it. We nicknamed it ‘VJ,’ for Victory over Japan.”

The junior college had a great reputation in the region, Hadley says, and it was an easy decision to attend.

“I had never wanted to be a career woman, but I always felt it was just as important for a woman to have an education as it was for a man,” she says. “I felt that’s what it took in order to one day be a good mother.”


Established less than a decade earlier, the college at Fourth Street and Byers Avenue was seeing a major influx of students as servicemen returned from the military. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the G.I. Bill, which allocated veterans up to $500 to cover tuition, books and fees.

In 1946, enrollment would hit more than 480 – a record for the young college. It was an exciting time, but Hadley says her primary focus was her studies. She was impressed with the faculty, who more than lived up to their reputation for excellence.

“I think back about Edna Drummond … she was the dean of women and taught biology,” she says. “She did more to influence me becoming a teacher than anyone else ever had. “Martha McCormick was teaching in the math department. It was always said that when a student transferred to the Missouri School of Mines (and Metallurgy, in Rolla), staff there always knew if they’d had Martha for a teacher (because of the quality of their mathematics knowledge).”

Hadley joined the Alpha Kappa Mu sorority – serving as its vice president in 1947 – as well as the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Socializing wasn’t high on her list of priorities, however. “We’d drive to school in the morning, go to class, have lunch and drive home around 3,” she says. Occasionally, she and her friends would eat lunch at the Connor Hotel (though it was a bit expensive, she says), and she enjoyed catching a movie in downtown Joplin.

But much of her free time was spent studying or with her boyfriend, Jack, who was a year behind her. In 1947, she was named “Pigskin Princess” in conjunction with Homecoming festivities. Hadley can’t recall who nominated her, but says it likely helped that a number of young men on the football team were from her home town and supported her coronation.


When she graduated from Joplin Junior College, Hadley transferred to the University of Missouri in Columbia to earn her degree in secondary education with a major in biology and a minor in geosciences and chemistry.

She applied for her first teaching position in Joplin, though lost out to a former classmate, Floyd Belk – who would later become the college’s vice president of academic affairs. “I really liked him,” says Hadley. “He was a fine person.”

She took a teaching job in Carthage instead, earning at the time a very respectable $200 per week. Her teaching career eventually lost out to her passion for motherhood. She and Jack were married in 1950 and had four children. He worked for Firestone and the family moved several times, though they always seemed to wind up back in Carthage.

Hadley would later work for 13 years in the accounting department at Bass Pro in Springfield. Having learned the value of a good education from their mother, all four of their children would attend Missouri Southern.

When her husband passed away, she moved to the Kansas City area to be closer to her children. Sitting at her kitchen table on a recent fall afternoon, Hadley says her time at Joplin Junior College may not have been exciting compared to others, but it remains very important to her.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she says. “I wanted my parents to be proud of me. Education was very important to them and I tried to instill that in my children as they were growing up.”

Alumni Fall 2016 Graduate Stories

‘I was blessed’ – Esdra Lamy, ’00, shares path to Warner Bros.

There’s no straight line to success. It’s often the result of a bit of serendipity, focus and hard work.

Esdra Lamy, who serves as vice president for station sales for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, originally came to Missouri Southern to play soccer.

“I needed to do a video interview for a summer camp coaching job, and I stumbled into Robin Douglas’ office. She asked me some questions on camera,” he said. “I checked out the TV station and I realized that’s what I wanted to do. I was hooked … I changed my major right away.”

“I had a strong passion for on-the-air stuff, but also the creative aspect,” he said. “The beautiful thing about working at KGCS is that I got involved in both ends of it.”

He was featured on programs such as “Southern Sports Sunday,” and was part of the push to get the station into the then-new Leggett & Platt Athletic Center to broadcast games. “We offered live sporting events locally produced by us, and the timing was impeccable,” he said. “The men’s basketball team had one of its best years ever.” Douglas, coordinator of Testing Services who taught Lamy’s television production class, remembers that Lamy would come to class smartly dressed when his classmates would typically wear jeans and T-shirts.

“To this day, I recall when I commented on why he was so dressed up, he said, ‘You have to dress for the job you want.’ I remember that clearly, and I had a deeper respect for him as he grew into the man he always knew he could be.”

After graduating from Missouri Southern in 2000, Lamy moved to Kansas City to enter the Target training program, but quickly realized he wasn’t where he wanted to be. After an interview process, he was hired as an account executive for Petry Media and moved to New York City. A position opened up with Petry’s television sales division several months later in Los Angeles and he made the move.

“When you come from an environment where you have to be proactive – like at Missouri Southern – it helped prepare me,” he said. “It happened because I raised my hand.”

Proactive was the name of the game when he “cold called” his way into an account executive position after seeing an ad in the trades.

“I started from the ground up (at Warner Bros.),” Lamy said. “Typically for those jobs you have to know somebody. I kept working my way up to more responsibilities and getting more experience in different territories.”

Fast forward a dozen years and Lamy has helped launch several first-run shows and shepherds the broadcast of programs such as “TMZ,” “Extra,” “People’s Court” and “Judge Mathes.” His division also handles the sales of sitcoms and off-network shows such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Person of Interest” and “Smallville.”

“Esdra is not only a success story in regards to what MSSU can offer, he is a success story in regards to what relationships between students and instructors can be if students are willing to listen, learn and grow,” said Douglas.

“I’ve worked with the best and most caring people, with big hearts and who love what they do,” he said.

Alumni Fall 2016 Graduate Stories