Homegrown help: UMSL finds increasing support from alumni and St. Louis-area friends

St. Louis skyline

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The success of the Gateway for Greatness Campaign is in many respects a coming-of-age story for the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Started in 2005, the capital campaign concluded this summer after surpassing both its initial $100 million goal and a subsequent $150 million goal. In all, UMSL raised more than $154 million through gifts from 55,000 donors. Of those contributors, 31 gave more than $1 million.

“Many people had suggested our alumni were too young and our economy too weak to support a major campaign,” Chancellor Tom George says. “But our alumni and corporate and community leaders proved differently. They have responded in record numbers in terms of supporting scholarships and providing funds to ensure we have quality programs and facilities.”

The top 31 donors accounted for more than $55 million in campaign gifts. Particularly pleasing, George says, was that eight of these donors are UMSL alumni.

“We had a handful of million-dollar donors before the campaign – none of whom were alumni,” George says. “We now have several graduates who have the desire and capacity to support UMSL at a level not possible just a decade ago. They are committed to helping others succeed as they have succeeded.”

Norm Eaker, BSBA 1977, is one example. He began classes at the university just a few short weeks after his first visit to campus with his father.

“We didn’t have the money for me to go away to school, and my dad knew that UMSL was affordable and had a good reputation,” Eaker says. “Plus, I could work and go to school at the same time, which was a necessity.”

For the majority of his college career, Eaker worked the night shift making doughnuts at a St. Louis-area shop. After graduation, he landed his first job at Peat Marwick (now KPMG) before joining Edward Jones in 1981 as an internal auditor. He’s now a principal and chief administrative officer at the company.

Eaker and Laura, his wife, created the Eaker Family Scholarship at UMSL, which sponsors inner-city students throughout their college education. The Eakers also made a campaign gift that will help fund the construction of a new building for the College of Business Administration.

“UMSL’s business college gave me an excellent educational foundation, and I’m sure much of my personal success is attributable to the quality of education I received,” Norm Eaker says. “I feel it is a privilege to help by giving back to UMSL and my community.”

Martin Leifeld, vice chancellor for advancement at UMSL, says Eaker’s gifts are extraordinary, but Norm Eaker’s story is not. Leifeld and his team of fundraisers have spoken to thousands of other like-minded alumni and business leaders who have expressed a growing appreciation of UMSL’s teaching, research and service contributions to them as individuals and the St. Louis region as a whole.

Leifeld also pointed out that many of the corporate gifts surpassing $1 million resulted from alumni advocacy or leadership within a company. Having many alumni in leadership roles is vital, he says.

“Reaching and surpassing our campaign goal speaks loudly to the importance UMSL has in this community,” Leifeld says. “We have 84,000 alumni and hundreds of community partnerships. No other university brings more to bear on the social and economic advancement of the region. UMSL truly is a Gateway for Greatness.”

Partners for Greatness

The University of Missouri–St. Louis thanks its 31 Partners for Greatness. These are individuals and organizations that contributed $1 million or more during the university’s Gateway for Greatness Campaign.

Ameren Missouri

Anonymous Business

Anonymous Business

Anonymous Individual

Anheuser-Busch Foundation

The Boeing Company

Wayne S. and Michele Jackson DeVeydt

Norman L. and Lauralea Eaker

Edward D. Jones & Company Foundation

Emerson Charitable Trust

Enterprise Holdings Foundation

Express Scripts Foundation

Express Scripts Inc.

Gary D. and Sherry Forsee

Foundation for Credit Education

Stanley A. and Terry V. Freerks

Thomas F. George and Barbara C. Harbach

HTC Foundation

Whitney R. and Anna M. Harris

Charles E. and Maureen S. Hoffman

Nicholas and Sophia P. Karakas

Kenneth S. and Nancy Kranzberg

E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee

Eugene J. and Alice E. Meehan

Monsanto Company

George and Melissa Paz

Jay S. Pepose and Susan K. Feigenbaum and Pepose Vision Institute

Emily R. Pulitzer

Steven F. and Katie R. Schankman

Peter G. and Maria A. Schick

Joseph A. and Mary K. Stieven


This story was originally published in the fall 2012 issue of UMSL Magazine.


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