HOLLISTER — Ozarks Technical Community College officials announced Thursday during a groundbreaking ceremony at its new Table Rock Campus that the Robert W. Plaster Foundation has made a “significant, seven-figure” gift to the college.
This is the first donation OTC has received from the Plaster family according to communications director Joel Doepker. In recognition of the contribution, the four-story 60,000-square-foot building to be constructed on the Table Rock Campus will be named the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center.
“A good education gives a young person a box of tools that they can go out and build their futures with,” said Steve Plaster, son of the late Robert Plaster.
He said the intent of the foundation his father established has always been to support educational endeavors.
Steve Plaster did not want to reveal the exact amount of the family’s donation.
“This gift will make it possible for OTC to open our new campus with a four-story, state-of-the-art facility,” said Hal Higdon, chancellor of OTC. “The Table Rock Campus will be fully equipped to train and educate the citizens of Stone and Taney counties from day one.”
The first classes on the Table Rock Campus will begin fall 2013. At that time, the lease will be up at the Branson Education Center, located at The Shoppes at Branson Meadows, and the center will close. Classes offered there will be relocated to the Hollister campus.
A nursing program currently offered in Reeds Spring through OTC will also relocate to the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center.
The campus is located between U.S. 65 and Missouri 165. In December 2010, the college purchased a property commonly known as Crockey’s Restaurant, which included 8.25 acres.
This summer, the former restaurant was demolished. In addition to the land purchase, the city of Hollister donated .83 acres contiguous to the Crockey’s property.
In April 2010, Hollister School District voters approved more than 2-1 to join the OTC district in exchange for higher property taxes. The Hollister School Board voted in December 2009 to put the issue before voters.
“I’m excited about the future, the future of OTC in Hollister,” said Hollister superintendent Tim Taylor. “The Hollister School District has made tremendous gains in many areas over the last five to 10 years, but there is one area we’ve struggled with. That is the percent of seniors who go on to college.”
Hollister School District is an A-Plus school, which means students who qualify may attend a community college for two years tuition-free.
“OTC in Hollister is kind of the piece of the puzzle that has been missing and with the campus right here in Hollister, I feel the puzzle will be complete,” Taylor said.