A mere week before the start of the Spring 2019 semester at Missouri Southern, the Mathematics Department moved to its new home in Nixon Hall, although the transition began at least a few years earlier.

Reynolds Hall, one of the earliest Missouri Southern buildings, had long served as home not only to math, but to physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and environmental health. Science labs and classrooms reflected the world of the 1960’s and were inadequate to a university attempting to provide a modern education. 

When funds appeared to be available for remodeling, the departments involved first attempted to find a way to rearrange and update the space to accommodate the needs of each. 

Attempts to create a rearrangement that would provide for the use of up-to-date equipment and adhere to current access and safety parameters proved to be impossible within the given amount of space.

Fortunately, a cooperative agreement between Governor Nixon and the state legislature provided a solution. Construction of a new building, to be named Nixon Hall, would house the Mathematics Department, freeing up space in Reynolds Hall (some remodeled, some not) to accommodate the needs of the remaining departments. 

As with all such projects, not all of the items on any department wish list were granted, but for the Mathematics Department, the new home is proving to be a great one. 

Indeed, few math departments are lucky enough to have such a fine new facility. Nixon Hall consists of three floors, all designed specifically with the teaching, learning, and practice of mathematics in mind. 

A feature quick to strike visitors to the building is the amount of wall space devoted to writing surfaces. 

Signs throughout the building proclaim “This is a whiteboard”, and students of mathematics and other disciplines take this to heart. The words, symbols, equations, diagrams on these vertical surfaces throughout the building’s collaboration spaces give dynamic evidence of learning in progress. 

Classrooms, in addition to providing the ultimate expression of this theme, with every wall a writable surface, have easily-movable desks and chairs, designed to allow for regrouping in countless configurations, thereby encouraging and making possible a great variety of teaching approaches. 

On a recent evening, we used the occasion of our annual initiation into Missouri Southern’s chapter of the national mathematics honor society Kappa Mu Epsilon to showcase our new facility.

 In the process, we had a fun unexpected turn of events. We maintain a log book of all members inducted over the years, and in addition to our new members (with member numbers up to 432), we had the privilege to have the company of two of the earliest members of our chapter: #52, Charles Robert Ames and #57, Rickey Richardson. 

Ames, who has taken classes at Missouri Southern off and on since 1967, was initiated in 1979. Rickey Richardson, initiated a year later, is the father of Kim Richardson, one of the new initiates. The other new initiates were Trevor Hailey, Jacob Lett, and Justin Sanders.

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