In 1984, SMSU purchased the 16,000-square-foot Central High School building, as well as the complete former school complex, from the West Plains R-7 School Board for $225,000. Half of the purchase price was from surplus funds contained in the West Plains campus reserves and the remaining one-half came from the main campus reserves.
The building was renovated to be a new home for academic programs at SMSU-West Plains. The project included the renovation of the existing structure plus a four-story 4,500-square-foot addition.
The Central Hall Complex renovation project began in July 1986 and was completed in November 1987 at a cost of $966,000. The renovation was funded through Missouri’s Third State Building Fund. The new facility more than doubled the floor space per student and helped to alleviate the acute classroom shortage created by an enrollment of more than 600 students.
A dedication ceremony was held on December 15, 1987.
In May 1998, the Southwest Missouri State University Board of Governors passed a resolution renaming Central Hall as M.O. Looney Hall. Dr. M.O. Looney served as Chancellor of SMSU-West Plains from 1990 to 1998 during eight years of tremendous growth and improvement.
In 2000, a $260,000 renovation project converted Looney Hall into a one-stop student services center to house admissions, the business office, career services/higher education resource center, financial aid, registration and records, and the student academic advisement center.
In 2010, M.O. Looney Hall underwent extensive renovations to convert the former one-stop student services center into an allied health classroom and laboratory building. Classes opened in the building in January 2011 after completion of the $700,000 project. The renovation project provided much needed classroom space to accommodate a growing student enrollment, as well as future expansion of the allied health programs. The building also houses a new, state-of-the-art allied health simulation laboratory made possible with a $250,000 federal grant assisted by 8th District Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau), as well as the Mindy Lahey Hughston Room, which is being made possible with a gift from Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic (PTSC). The Hughston Room will contain specialized video technology that will allow students to watch fellow students react to the medical conditions being enacted in the simulation room.