Over the years, the Robert W. Plaster Foundation has made gifts in support of students, academics, economic development and athletics. Leadership gifts from the Plaster Foundation led to the naming of three significant facilities on campus: the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex, the Robert W. Plaster Student Union and the Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development.
“For more than a quarter-century now, the Plaster Family and the Plaster Foundation have made timely and meaningful contributions to advance Missouri State University,” said Missouri State Interim President Clif Smart. “From academic scholarships to the sports complex to the student union, the generous contributions have made a difference.
“That will be true again with the new Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development, which will be a central focus of the IDEA Commons. When renovated and occupied, that center will be yet another way the university contributes to the vitality of Springfield and southwest Missouri.”
The Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development, currently under development, will house a business incubator managed by Springfield Innovation, Inc., the Small Business and Technology Development Center and other university- and community-based business support services, along with the cooperative engineering program with Missouri Science and Technology. The gift from the Robert W. Plaster Foundation will help make the bond payments over the next 20 years. A new roof was installed on the facility, which was Phase I. The exterior and interior work will be completed in two additional phases. The second Phase is now underway, beginning with the interior demolition. The complete renovation in Phase II will be completed by the fall of 2012.
The late Robert W. Plaster served two terms on the Board of Trustees of the Missouri State University Foundation. His son, Steve Plaster, is currently serving as a member of the Our Promise National Campaign Steering Committee. His daughter, Dr. Cheryl Wrinkle, teaches in the department of physics, astronomy and materials science.
Prior Bronze Bear recipients include:
- 1998 – John Q. Hammons, international developer and philanthropist
- 1999 – David Glass, former president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, of Bentonville, Ark., and owner of the Kansas City Royals baseball team
- 2000 – Duane Meyer, president emeritus of MSU
- 2003 – Virginia and William H. “Bill” Darr, founder and owner of American Dehydrated Foods and related companies, and Springfield philanthropists
- 2004 – Jane and Ken Meyer, philanthropists and owners of Meyer Communications of Springfield
- 2005 – Dr. John Keiser, president emeritus of MSU
- 2006 – Thomas Strong, nationally-known attorney
- 2007 – The McQueary Family, former owners of a wholesale drug company
- 2008 – The Turner Family, Great Southern Bank
- 2009 – The Pinegar Family, Pinegar Chevrolet
- 2009 – Michael Nietzel, former president of MSU
- 2010 – James Ferguson, president of the Heart of America Beverage Company
Recipients of the Bronze Bear are recommended by the university president and administrative council and supported by the executive committees of the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Student Government Association, prior to going before the Board of Governors for approval.