- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri State University teachers, coaches and students are praising a newly remodeled academic center for the help it provides and its use as a recruiting tool.

About $600,000 in renovations to the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Academic Achievement Center were completed last month.

The woman for whom it was named, Mary Jo Wynn, toured it Wednesday. She spent 45 years at the school, 25 of those as senior women’s athletics administrator, before she retired in 1998, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1uWjdAp ).

The center offers all students two computer labs with 23 desktop computers, two open study areas and six other rooms for individual or group study.

“If I wanted anything named after me, it would have been toward the academic aspect aimed toward student-athletes, so I’m just thrilled,” Wynn said of the second-floor area inside the Forsythe Athletics Center.

Dan Raines, the center’s director, said the school “didn’t have much to sell’ before the makeover because the previous academic center was outdated.

“We’ve had recruits up here already and you can see it’s a point of pride now for our coaches to bring recruits through,” he said. “They’re able to show them this is a brand-new facility that can compete with any place in the country.”

Football coach Terry Allen said it’s better than the “1980s version” of the academic center.

“It can’t get any better for us. It’s the front porch to our offices, plus the first thing we always emphasize to recruits when they visit are academics,” he said.

The center, which has an annual budget of $235,238, has four full-time staffers, a graduate assistant and a part-time administrative assistant. It’s open to all students - not just student-athletes - with all first-semester freshmen required to spend at least six hours per week in study hall there. Individual programs then decide how often players are required in the center.

The required attendance is helpful, redshirt-freshman football player Cecil Bratton said.

“It was very good to have to go,” Bratton said. “You associate it with a place to get your work done and I wound up making good grades.”

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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