~ Missouri State University President Clif Smart was honored with the Key to the City by Springfield Mayor Ken McClure at the Missouri State Board of Governors meeting earlier today. Smart, who has served as president since 2011, is being recognized for his significant contributions to the university and the community.

In his remarks, Mayor McClure praised Smart's leadership during a challenging time for the university. "Clif is a leader for a time such as this," he said, quoting from the book of Esther in the Bible. "He assumed the presidency at one of the University's most difficult times."

Under Smart's leadership, Missouri State University has seen an increase in enrollment and a rise in its profile across the state. He has also spearheaded necessary facility improvements and kept tuition affordable, all while facing significant underfunding compared to other universities in the state.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Smart worked closely with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the City to ensure that both entities were aware of each other's actions and collaborated on decisions for the common good.

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In addition to receiving the Key to the City, Mayor McClure declared it "Clif Smart Day" with a resolution outlining Smart's numerous contributions to both Missouri State University and Springfield as a whole.

Smart's accomplishments during his tenure as president include enhancing diversity among faculty, staff, and students; developing new degree programs at all levels; achieving a Silver STARS rating from the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education; and setting records in state appropriations, private gifts, and grant funding.

A resident of Springfield for over 30 years, Smart previously served as general counsel for Missouri State University before assuming his role as president. Prior to that, he had a successful private legal practice in Springfield.

Smart and his wife Gail have two sons: Murray, who graduated from Southwest Baptist University along with his wife Amy in 2012 and now resides in Rogers, Arkansas with their children; and Jim, who recently graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Mayor McClure's presentation of the Key to the City makes Smart the sixth person to receive this prestigious honor. Previous recipients include Sam Hamra, William "Bill" Darr, retired Director of Planning and Development Mary Lilly Smith, Dr. Robert Spence, and Johnny Morris. For more information on the award, visit

Filed Under: Government, City

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