Retired Judge Brenda Stith Loftin eager to give back to her alma mater UMSL

by | May 15, 2024

Loftin, who serves on the Chancellor's Council and as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, recently made a gift to the Richter Family Welcome and Alumni Center.
Retired Judge Brenda Stith Loftin works with a table full of middle school girls and a teacher at the 2014 Girls Summit held on the UMSL campus.

Retired Judge Brenda Stith Loftin (center) works with a table full of middle school girls and a teacher at the 2014 Girls Summit held on the UMSL campus. (Photo by August Jennewein)

By Melissa Landry, University Advancement

Retired Circuit Court Judge Brenda Stith Loftin is clear about why she’s felt compelled to support the future of the University of Missouri–St. Louis with her generosity.

“I love being a part of the change that is taking place at UMSL,” said Loftin, who earned her BGS from the university in 1980. “I am forever grateful to UMSL for being a part of my life.”

Brenda Stith Loftin

Brenda Stith Loftin

This simple, yet heartfelt answer captures the hope Loftin has for the future of UMSL and the students that seek their education there. As an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, she understands their journey more than most.

Loftin’s own education at UMSL came as a transfer student after she’d attended two other schools. Something was different about the university. She feels the quality and diversity of the faculty and the resources available to students helped her build a strong foundation that allowed her to find success, both at UMSL and in law school.

She was an assistant prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County before being appointed to serve as a judge in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court. She retired in 2014 after 20 years on the bench, having presided over hundreds of civil and criminal jury trials.

She vividly recalls her struggles with math courses as a student, comparing it almost to a fear of math. It was a young algebra instructor at UMSL who finally made it click for her. Armed with newfound confidence, she went on to tackle calculus and another higher-level math course, realizing that sometimes all it takes is someone showing you a different way to approach a problem.

That was one of many lessons learned that inspired her to give back.

“I just feel that UMSL has done so much for me,” Loftin said. “I try to contribute in different ways to show my gratitude.”

Most recently, that support has come in the form of generosity to the Richter Family Welcome and Alumni Center.

A major component of the Transform UMSL initiative, the Richter Family Welcome and Alumni Center is a new 31,000 square foot facility that will be the gateway to the university. The center will enrich the entire Triton lifecycle, beginning with prospective students and their families and continuing with our current student body, as well as our more than 115,000 alumni – embodying the notion that transformative change through UMSL begins the moment a student first arrives and continues through all the years to come.

The center will house resources vital to student success including financial aid, scholarships, new student programs and academic support. It will also be a home for the university’s alumni, providing ample opportunities for student and alumni connections.

Loftin hopes this and other transformative plans for the future of UMSL will open the doors to new students while providing resources to current students and alumni.

“I just see that we’re taking off, the alumni center is just the beginning,” she said. “To play a part in it is really amazing. The more I stay involved, the more I appreciate UMSL.”

And stay involved, she does. Beyond being a donor and a member of the faculty, Stith Loftin also volunteers her time as a member of the Chancellor’s Council. She sees this commitment to the future of the university as just one more way she can give back.

“I’m always awestruck at people who give millions of dollars, that is just awesome,” Loftin said. “So, what I do is concentrate on what I do best. I can teach at UMSL. I can reach out to the students like professors did for me when I was coming along. I can be a part of the Chancellor’s Council and volunteer my time there. And then I can contribute as much as I can financially and on a consistent basis.”

Beyond her support of the Richter Family Welcome and Alumni Center, Loftin also created a fund to support students at the College of Nursing in memory of her mother.

“That is one of the good things about UMSL,” she said. “Donors can give to what they care about. They can give money to scholarships and support students that way or they can get involved with a specific area they are passionate about, like me. When I am on campus, I marvel at the physical change that is taking place. But what hasn’t changed are my memories of UMSL as a student. I love my alma mater.”

UMSL Daily

UMSL Daily