Advancing Excellence

Posted by
On July 31, 2007

UMR capital campaign seeks to strengthen campus is key areas

If there is one common quality among UMR alumni and friends, it’s loyalty.

Take, for instance, Helen Lasko. The wife of the late Edward P. Lasko, MetE’50, established two scholarships totaling $100,000 and an estate gift that will add nearly $2 million more with money she made playing the stock market. But the gift that means the most to her is the $50 check she sends to the football program every March 17 in honor of Edward’s birthday. He played football for the Miners and UMR was important to him. Now it is important to Helen.

Helen is one of 360 UMR supporters who have donated money to the university for 25 or more consecutive years. Some of those gifts total millions of dollars. Others, hundreds. All of them are crucial to UMR’s success as the campus enters the public phase of its second capital campaign.

Like most fundraising campaigns, “Advancing Excellence: The Campaign for the University of MissouriRolla” began with a “quiet” phase. But as UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III would say, the university’s worst-kept secret is also one of its greatest assets. In just three short years, more than $115 million has been raised toward the goal of $200 million by 2010.

As Carney commented at the April 19 campaign launch, “Since our founding in 1870, this university has been one of the world’s leaders in preparing young men and young women to solve society’s problems. Whether we were known as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, the University of Missouri-Rolla or, quite often, simply ‘Rolla’ we have always had a reputation for excellence.” That drive for excellence has been nurtured by the support of the university’s friends and alumni a community that helped UMR’s students, faculty and physical campus flourish.

State colleges and universities can no longer rely on state support. Since 2000, state support has dropped from 49 percent of UMR’s budget to only 29 percent in 2006. Now, more than ever, private gifts have become essential.
Some UMR alumni give of their time. Others give of their knowledge. Many give financially. In an era when state colleges and universities can no longer rely on state support, private gifts have become essential.

The motivation for giving is different for everyone. But at the base of it all is a deeply rooted respect for MSM-UMR, the university that made its mark on so many. Now donors are making their mark on UMR.

Student support

“It is my hope and dream to give at least one future student an opportunity like you gave me,” wrote Bryan Mather, ME’05, in a letter of thanks to Thomas, MinE’50, and Joan Holmes.

Over the past two decades, the Holmeses have helped nearly 20 students from Wilmington, Mass., come to UMR through a scholarship fund they created in 1987. Many of those students had never traveled west of the Mississippi River and they’re grateful for the opportunity.

Holmes, a native of Wilmington, understands the value of his UMR degree. “My success is a direct result of my education and experiences as a student in Rolla,” he says. “Through this scholarship, we want to give new generations of young men and women from the East a chance to get an education at an outstanding Midwestern university.”

Eighty-eight percent of UMR students receive financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study jobs. While the average household income of a UMR student is around 67,000, 38 percent come from families whose total income is $40,000 or less. Thirty-seven percent of UMR students are the first generation in their family to attend college.

Without financial assistance, many of these students wouldn’t be at UMR.
UMR’s goal is to raise $35 million for student support. Nearly 60 percent of those funds have been raised during the campaign’s quiet phase.

Faculty support

Physicians use magnetic resonance imaging as a noninvasive way to find very subtle problems in human tissue. Similarly, Reza Zoughi, the Schlumberger Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UMR, uses microwave and millimeter wave nondestructive testing and evaluation to detect and image flaws in composite structures without destroying them or altering their usefulness. His research has been applied to things like external fuel tank insulating foam on the space shuttle and corrosion under paint in aircraft structures.

UMR faculty are world leaders in transportation, infrastructure, materials, environmental engineering, manufacturing and energy research. They also most directly shape a student’s education. They teach a student how to learn, how to think, how to work in teams and how to thrive in an uncertain world. Raising funds for endowed professorships and chairs will help UMR attract faculty who are at the top of their field.

So far, $6.4 million has been raised toward a faculty support goal of $26 million. Those funds will allow UMR to establish chairs or professorships in such fields as energy, homeland security and critical infrastructure protection, biomedical engineering, and environmental science and engineering. A portion of the funds will also be used to attract women and minorities to UMR faculty positions and to support other areas of greatest opportunity.

Facility support

Gary Havener, Math’62, returned to campus in 1987 for the dedication of McNutt Hall, which was named for pioneering geologist Vachel H. McNutt, MinE’10, MS MinE’12, and funded through an endowment established by his widow. McNutt, who died in 1956, never saw the campus monument built in his name. After the ceremony, Havener decided if he was ever able to do something similar for UMR – he wanted to do it during his lifetime.

The Havener Center, built with funding from a $5 million gift from Havener, anchors the new entrance to campus and gives students a place to congregate. Across the street is UMR’s Residential College, where students participate in “learning communities” that teach them things like entrepreneurship, experiential design and leadership. This fall the second Residential College is scheduled to open.

Future projects on the horizon include the completion of Toomey Hall, UMR’s mechanical and aerospace engineering complex. The renovation and expansion began with a $5 million gift from John, ME’49, MS ME’51, and Mary Toomey and their family. Improvements to the athletic facilities, construction of biotechnology and student design facilities, improvements in information technology, and laboratory and equipment upgrades are also key to achieving the campus vision.

Program support

Turning soybeans into environmentally friendly paint, developing a submarine that will plunge into a nuclear reactor’s core, studying Martian rocks that might tell us if there is water or even life on the red planet. Projects like these are undertaken by UMR undergraduate students every year through the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research (OURE) program. The program gives undergrads a chance to roll up their sleeves with real-world projects that most universities only offer to graduate students.

OURE students will benefit from the $32 million UMR hopes to raise for program support in the capital campaign, but so will K-12 students. UMR now has pre-college summer programs to show students how fun engineering and science can be from as early as the first grade. Students all the way through high school come to campus each year to get a taste of college life, helping us defy the downward national trend in engineering interest (now less than 5 percent of college bound students).

UMR’s K-12 outreach got a boost in 2006 from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which gave UMR a $387,000 matching grant to support Project Lead the Way, a program that puts preengineering curriculum into high schools and middle schools.

UMR recognizes teamwork both in and outside of the classroom is important for developing students who are well equipped for life after college. That team spirit is the core of the UMR athletic program.

Last fall, former University of Michigan football player Peter Kinyon and his wife, Betty Jane, showed their support of Miner athletics with a $250,000 gift to the UMR football program. Although not UMR graduates, they are strong supporters of the program and realized the value sports have in a student’s education.

Other programs slated to receive funding include departmental programs, entrepreneurship and management, leadership development, interdisciplinary design and study-abroad programs.

Make your mark

Whatever their motivation, whatever their background, whatever program they hope to support, MSM-UMR alumni are united by their experiences at Rolla. Alumni tell us UMR made its mark in their lives. Now is your chance to make your mark on UMR. Join us in building upon the foundation of a great university.

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On July 31, 2007. Posted in Features, Summer 2007