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As part of an orientation tour of state facilities, about half of Missouri's 40 newly elected lawmakers visited the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau on Thursday.

Many acknowledged they had not before been on the campus of Southeast, the only four-year college in Southeast Missouri. Many probably were not familiar with the school's longtime effort to secure state funding for construction of a building to serve its College of Business. It therefore was fitting that the university president, Kala Stroup, stressed to the soon-to-be Missouri House and Senate members the importance of the university acquiring the necessary share of state financing for its construction.

As the university president pointed out, Southeast has been working on the project for about a decade. Plans for the building have been prepared as a result of planning money having been appropriated by the state in 1990, but in subsequent years efforts to include the money for its construction have failed because of vetoes by the governor.

The university is committed to serving the region, and a key part of that commitment is serving business, said Stroup. A strong argument in favor of the state following through with money for the building is the fact that the university in a recent fund-raising drive generated $2.5 toward construction of the building. Much of that was provided by businesses in the region. The $2.5 million is a significant amount toward a building that is estimated to cost in excess of $10 million.

It should prove to the state that the region is serious about acquiring a business college building. A like match from the state would put the building well on its way toward construction.

As Stroup explained, the university routinely has from 1,200 to 1,400 students a large percentage of its enrollment majoring in business. The university has developed a top-notch College of Business academically, but without a business building, classes are scattered around campus in various buildings.

With a growing number of students pursuing business educations, the university desperately needs the new building. A central building would be beneficial to both business faculty and students. Also, if the university is to obtain prestigious accreditation for its College of Business, it must have a business building.

The university has done much to prove that it is serious about obtaining a business building. Hopefully, Thursday's visit did much to impress that fact upon the new lawmakers, and they will go to Jefferson City and join their colleagues in once again including an appropriation for its construction.

We urge them to do so and, pending such action, urge Gov.-elect Mel Carnahan to leave any funding for a Southeast business building in future state budgets. The university certainly has waited long enough.