Missouri State seeks funding to expand construction management program

Missouri State wants to build an addition onto Kemper Hall to expand its construction management program.

Citing high demand among local employers, Missouri State wants to significantly expand its construction management program. But to do so it needs more space.

In hopes that the state will help fund the expansion, the university has requested $2 million from the MoExcels Workforce Initiative to add onto Kemper Hall and establish a construction education and training hub.

If the funding is approved in the upcoming legislative session, MSU would then match that amount, or more, with operating reserve funds or private donations.

The total project is estimated at $4.2 million.

“Historically, we’ve had more employers looking for our graduates than we’ve had graduates,” said David Meinert, dean of the MSU College of Business.

“There are currently over 40 construction-related firms on the advisory board for the construction management department and they’re all desperate for more talent.”

David Meinert

In the fall, the program had 242 majors. “We’ve increased that over the last five years by 13% but we feel like we can do even more,” Meinert said.

If funding for expansion is approved, the program plans to grow enrollment by 50%.

“Because we are space-constrained currently, it would be impossible to significantly increase the number of majors in the program without this additional space,” Meinert said.

The working plan is to renovate part of Kemper Hall and add onto the west side to create open spaces, which are lacking at this time.

Missouri State University's Kemper Hall on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022.

The hub will provide extra classroom and lab space where students can gain hands-on experience with construction equipment and tools.

It will also provide space for training people in the region already employed in the construction trades.

Increased focus on recruiting women, under-represented groups into program

Richard Gebken, head of the construction management department, said interest in the program has been fueled by job opportunities and starting salary.

Graduates of the program have some of the highest average starting salaries of any major on campus — more than $60,000 annually.

Richard Gebken

“Students that come here realize that they are looking at very high career prospects after graduation. So, that is a big driver,” Gebken said. “The nature of the industry and the work, there is a sense of satisfaction that students are getting … It’s very physical, very connected to things that you can see and point to when they are done.”

Gebken said the program has experienced a major overhaul in the past two decades.

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