“A Bo Pace kind of day.”
That’s how everyone who attended Friday’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the Terry L. “Bo” Pace Industrial Science Center at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) described the excitement and positivity surrounding the event.
With the sun shining brightly and temperatures in the upper 60s, well over 100 university faculty, staff, administrators and community members gathered at 218 W. Broadway to officially open the recently renovated facility and once again celebrate the long-time local businessman and supporter of education in whose honor it was named.
A transformational gift from the Pace family, along with federal and state dollars, covered the conversion of the building that once served as a soft drink bottling plant into a training center for the Terry L. “Bo” Pace Advanced Welding and Fabrication Program.
“The Terry L. ‘Bo’ Pace Industrial Science Center represents many things for the Missouri State-West Plains campus – a tribute to our good friend Bo Pace, a symbol of our friendship and partnership with Sunie and Suzannah, and as home to the Terry L. ‘Bo’ Pace Advanced Fabrication and Welding Program,” Chancellor Dennis Lancaster said in remarks at the event.
“It also represents a step forward for our campus, a step into becoming a two-year, comprehensive college campus that provides workforce development programs that target the training needs of our area industry partners,” he added.
Jobs waiting for first graduating class
The chancellor pointed out that nine students graduated from the inaugural class of the welding program in May, and all nine had jobs before they received their certificates. “Those graduates went to work at CamCorp in Willow Springs, Leonardo/DRS here in West Plains, AB Stainless based in Mumbai, India, and for two of them, as assistants for the Pace Advanced Fabrication and Welding Program,” Lancaster said.
The next cohort of students in the program began their studies this fall, he added.
Future plans include offering a separate evening program and short-term, non-credit program in the summer, and, in conjunction with the Missouri Office of Workforce Development, grow the university’s registered apprenticeship program in welding, as well as in other training areas, Lancaster said.
“We have more to do. This isn’t the culmination of our vision. Missouri State-West Plains wants to be a key provider and partner in offering workforce training programs for our city, region and state,” the chancellor said.
“For too long south-central Missouri has been left on the sidelines for economic and educational development. We have great, talented, smart folks in each of our communities who want a better quality of life and desire a quality of place where they can not only live and raise their families but also thrive and aspire to much more than they might not even imagine right now,” he added.
Many thanked for their efforts
Lancaster thanked the many individuals involved in the project, including project manager Adam Shultz at Missouri State in Springfield; contractor John Adams and team from Adams Construction in West Plains; Esterly, Schneider and Associates architect firm; and numerous MSU-WP faculty, staff and administrators.
In his remarks, MSU President Clif Smart acknowledged the efforts of federal and state legislators, including U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, 33rd District State Sen. Karla Eslinger, 154th District State Rep. David Evans and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, in securing additional funding for the project. Through the center, Smart said, MSU-WP will be able to provide training for higher-paying skilled jobs to area residents and support the workforce needs of industries in the region for years to come.
Finally, Lancaster thanked Sunie and Suzannah Pace, the wife and daughter, respectively, of Bo Pace, for their generous gift. “Thank you for your wonderful gift to honor Bo, but also for seeing how a run-down building could be a fire-raging spark for so much more. As Bo was for many of us, the Pace Industrial Science Center is a symbol of what we can do – what we all can do – together, in partnership, and for a better tomorrow.”