Lifelong friendship with mentor inspires gift to UMSL Criminology Department
When Charles Huber stepped into a young scholar’s University of Missouri–St. Louis classroom in 1984, Huber didn’t expect to meet a future mentor and lifelong friend.
“As a kid from Kirkwood (Mo.), coming to school here and you get a guy from England teaching criminology, with such an impressive background, it was awe-inspiring,” said Huber, BS administration of justice 1986.
The impressive scholar was Richard Wright, Curators’ Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UMSL. Wright, who had arrived in St. Louis just weeks before walking into his first class on the university’s campus and meeting the wide-eyed and eager Huber.
“I can still see him sitting there in my mind’s eye in the very first row of that first class,” Wright said. “To me one of the really important things when you walk into a classroom is to see who is sitting in the front row because it tells you something about them. Chuck would have successes with or without me, but as teachers, the best we can hope to do is bring out what people already have in them. Chuck is a very bright person, and when I walked in (the classroom) I knew that.”
That first class was the start of an almost 30-year friendship.
“I remember the first time talking to Richard,” Huber said. “He encouraged me to consider a wider range of graduate schools and career ambitions, so I did. I was accepted into Washington University School of Law. Richard wrote a great recommendation letter for me. He really believed in me.”
After law school, Huber worked as general counsel for St. Louis-based Ralcorp Holdings Inc., a leading producer of private-brand foods and food-service products. In 2009, he was promoted to President of Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, Ralcorp’s frozen foods division and corporate vice president of Ralcorp. In January, Ralcorp was purchased by ConAgra Foods.
“I’ve had a great career, and much of it is due to mentors like Richard,” said Huber, who remains with ConAgra. “I have the opportunity to help UMSL and a department that has helped me so much. The criminology department has become a national leader in the field and the faculty remains committed to developing leaders. It’s the right thing to do.”
Huber recently gave the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UMSL $100,000 in Ralcorp stock.
“The gift is a huge deal for the department,” Wright said. “It’s a game changer for us. We are thrilled and glad to have the challenge to use it wisely.”
The gift will be used to create the Charles G. Huber, Jr. Endowed Dissertation Fellowship in Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Charles G. Huber, Jr., Endowed Scholarship in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The dissertation fellowship will be awarded to students in UMSL’s criminology doctoral program, which was ranked fourth in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The program prepares graduates for positions as researchers in academic, governmental and private settings, and for other positions requiring advanced knowledge of theories and methods in criminology and criminal justice. The first cohort of doctoral students was admitted in the fall of 1996, and doctoral degree recipients have assumed positions as university and college professors, and researchers at federal agencies.
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