Our defining leaders

Friday, November 4, 2022

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

On Nov. 6, 151 years ago, Gustavus Duncan took a seat in the first class offered at our university and marked the defining moment in our history. Since that humble and trying beginning, this remarkable institution has educated individuals who have gone on to become remarkable leaders of many other new beginnings. This Sunday, we will commemorate our Founders Day, a time to reflect on our defining moment and those defining university leaders who navigated the curve of time and crisis not by measuring timelines, but rather by achieving milestones.

Our defining leaders of the past 151 years envisioned a path forward in times of crisis, saw opportunity where others could not and led the university to new heights despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Perhaps the most consequential leader in the history of this university was a courageous individual who had the end in mind when he provided hope for the future, promised and achieved prosperity, and saved the institution from gradually slipping into obscurity and total demise. Indeed, and in his own words, “Hell, I (he) saved the school”!

Dr. George E. Ladd, a geologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard, was determined to reverse the fortunes of S&T, then known as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (MSM). He worked with state legislators, curators, governors and the local newspaper editor to get the word out about MSM. He once brought the entire state legislature to Rolla to make the case that the campus was underfunded. Under Dr. Ladd’s decade of leadership, enrollment grew from 130 in 1896 to 210 in 1907, even though he raised admissions standards. State appropriations more than tripled, as did faculty hires. He secured funding for new buildings, including his crowning achievement, Norwood Hall. The cornerstone for Norwood Hall was laid Nov. 23, 1902. Perhaps the most beautiful building on campus (certainly my favorite), Norwood Hall stands today as a testament to the vision and tenacity of this remarkable leader.

Sadly, there has been little recognition of Dr. Ladd’s influence on this university, even though he did so much to turn what one observer called a “country academy” into a respectable school of mines and set this university on an upward trajectory. Nov. 23 marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of Norwood Hall, and we plan to honor Dr. Ladd soon by holding a small celebration and unveiling a permanent display in Norwood Hall that will rightly recognize him for his vision and accomplishments.

On our Founder’s Day this Sunday, I want to take a moment and acknowledge our 151st anniversary, call our attention to the accomplishments of our past leaders who saw the horizon despite clouds of uncertainty, and thank our current leaders, alumni and friends who routinely offer their liberating perspectives and help us keep our vision focused on the future.

Happy birthday, S&T; I wish you a long journey of prosperity, change, endurance and discovery.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
mo@mst.edu | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910