New MSSU scholarship honors Leon and Sue Billingsly


An endowed scholarship for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in education has been established by the daughter of a couple whose legacy remains tied to the continued success of Missouri Southern State University.

Connie Billingsly Godwin, of Joplin, created the scholarship in honor of her parents, Dr. Leon and Sue Billingsly.

“Education was central in the lives of my parents,” said Godwin, a teacher education instructor at Missouri Southern. “I wanted to honor them and all they did to help students through their roles at Missouri Southern and this seemed to be a fitting way to have their memory live on.”

Dr. Leon Billingsly was named the fifth dean of Joplin Junior College in 1961, and later became president of what was then known as Jasper County Junior College. He served as the first president of Missouri Southern State College – as it transitioned into a four-year school and made the move to the Mission Hills campus – from 1964 until his death in 1978.

A former teacher, Sue Billingsly’s passion for helping students succeed became one of the cornerstones of her years at Missouri Southern. She became the first director of the Missouri Southern Foundation in 1979. Under her leadership, the Foundation became a more active fundraising organization with the development of the annual Phonathon. The annual fundraising campaign remains the cornerstone of the Southern Annual Fund.

The scholarship will begin to be awarded in the fall of 2014. Any student seeking a bachelor’s degree in education with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA may apply through the financial aid office.

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