Laura and Norman Eaker receive Lee Medal in recognition of their philanthropy
Longtime Edward Jones executive Norman Eaker and his wife, Laura, were honored as the 2020 recipients of the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Medal for Philanthropy, an award that recognizes individuals and organizations whose incredible generosity had the potential to transform lives and communities.
The Eakers received the honor Thursday evening during the university’s 29th annual Founders Celebration, sponsored by Edward Jones.
Rather than the usual dinner celebration, it was held as a virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic with hundreds of supporters tuning in live. With Edward Jones’ generous support covering the cost of the proceedings, all money raised from the event will benefit the UMSL Strong Scholarship Fund.
“Laura and Norman Eaker are simply stellar examples of those who benefit from their UMSL education and go on and reinvest their valuable time and financial resources with the university,” UMSL Vice Chancellor for Advancement Paul Herring said in awarding the Lee Medal.
Norman Eaker earned his BSBA from UMSL’s College of Business Administration in 1978 and joined Edward Jones as an internal auditor in 1981. He was named a general partner in 1984 and retired as chief administrative officer in 2016.
During his 35-year career at Edward Jones and since his retirement, he and Laura have been tireless advocates for UMSL including Norm’s service on the Chancellor’s Council from 2008 through 2015. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010, the same year he delivered a heartfelt address at commencement. In December 2016, he received an honorary doctorate for his lifelong commitment to the university.
“UMSL is a great institution that provides access to many people just like me back in the early 1970s,” Eaker said. “I was grateful for the quality education I got at UMSL, and I’m hoping I can share that with others.
“When I give to UMSL, whether it’s through philanthropy, or through my time and energy, I receive much more than I ever give with the joy and satisfaction of seeing this organization prosper and grow and provide access to quality education for so many our community. “
In 2010, the Eakers established the Eaker Family Scholarship to support students from north St. Louis. Since its creation, the scholarship has benefited dozens of students whom have earned their degrees. The Eakers also made a campaign gift to support the construction of Anheuser-Busch Hall, the home of the College of Business Administration, which opened in 2017.
Laura and Norman Eaker were humbled to receive the Lee Medal in recognition of these and other contributions.
“There are no better role models than Des and Mary Ann Lee,” Laura Eaker said. “They were gracious and generous givers, and they afforded so many young people the opportunity to continue their education. With that education, it makes them more confident, and the education is like a compass. It gives them direction in their lives, so they can have rewarding careers and fulfilling life and ultimately come back to UMSL and give to the next generation.”
The evening’s celebration was dedicated to the memory of Wayne Goode, one of UMSL’s founding fathers, who died earlier this month after a battle with leukemia. Chancellor Kristin Sobolik celebrated Goode’s legacy during her address.
“Wayne leaves behind a tremendous legacy – one that enabled the founding of UMSL as eastern Missouri’s only four-year public research university,” Sobolik said. “And there is no more appropriate time than during our Founders Celebration to reflect on our humble beginnings and Wayne’s important role in our university’s founding.”
The event was also a chance to express gratitude for UMSL’s many generous donors over the past year. The university saw a more than 20 percent increase in philanthropic giving with over $21 million raised in gifts, matching gifts and pledges. That included $65,000 raised for the Triton Emergency Fund to help students with critical needs after the pandemic hit.
George and Melissa Paz contributed a record $4 million – the largest single philanthropic gift in UMSL’s history – through the Paz Family Foundation to support student scholarships.
Herring and Associate Vice Chancellor Sharon Fenoglio also recognized the new and advancing members of the university’s gift societies – the Pierre Laclede Society, Auguste Chouteau Society and 1963 Society.
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