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Pursue the Future: Thanks a Million Dr. McClain

CampaignLogo-Pursue-FINAL-OLGiving Initiative Receives Six-Figure Planned Gift Commitment

The “Thanks a Million, Dr. McClain!” fundraising campaign is an important component of the “Pursue the Future” campaign and is designed to recognize former University President Dr. Charles McClain for his contributions while raising more than $1 million in his memory.

Gifts to this initiative provide valuable support for the ABC/Charles J. McClain Scholarship Fund, the Charles J. McClain Scholarship Endowment and the General John J. Pershing Scholarship Endowment. Each of these funds meant a great deal to McClain, and they all address one of Truman’s greatest institutional priorities — providing scholarship resources to deserving students.

In response to this effort, Truman alumni Phillip (’78) and Marla (’77) Brenner have documented a six-figure planned gift commitment to the General John J. Pershing Scholarship Endowment.

“We all have experiences that are life-changing,” Phil said. “For us, that was Truman State University. Marla and I met at Truman and are the first in our families to graduate from college. I was lucky enough to be named a Pershing Scholar. The scholarship, along with part-time work — I was advertising manager for the Index — and summer jobs allowed me to get a great education. I think that it is very important to give exceptional students a chance for a great education without regard to their financial means.”

Phil is deeply appreciative of the opportunities he has been given that allowed him to have a good career, to raise a family with Marla, to live well and to have resources for retirement. Phil and Marla shared their good fortune over the years with Truman and have been loyal and generous annual donors to the Foundation since the 1980s. They are now arranging for Truman to receive support after their lifetimes. A bequest in their will ensures the General John J. Pershing Scholarship Endowment will one day receive a major gift from the Brenner’s estate that will be used to support highly motivated and promising students in perpetuity.

“In planning for our estate we wanted to leave something for our children, plus provide bequests to a few charities and causes that are important to us,” Phil said. “By doing it through our estate, we retain control and use the assets if we need them. On the other hand, we can’t take it with us, so we know that portion of our estate will go to continuing the important work of Truman.”

McClain’s passing was a poignant reminder of the influence one individual can exercise to significantly shape the world. Envisioning and realizing a better future requires intention, discipline, integrity, humility and action. Phil and Marla understand the importance of integrating these powerful components and leverage each of them to create a better future for generations that follow. They challenge other alumni to support the future success of Truman and the students it serves.

“I encourage all alumni who have benefited from their experiences at Truman to think about how they can give back,” Phil said. “It’s easy, without taking dollars out of your pocket, to make a donation to Truman through your estate. Knowing that a portion of what you leave behind will help deserving students and sustain the mission of Truman is a legacy you can be proud of.”


Pursue the Future: Alumni Pledge Record-Breaking Donation

CampaignLogo-Pursue-FINAL-OLThe primary focus of the “Pursue the Future” campaign is to grow the University’s scholarship program, and no contributors have done more to achieve that goal than Dan and Jan Shepherd. Their gift of $7 million stands as the largest ever received by Truman, and an overwhelming majority of that donation will go directly to support students.

“We both know how valuable a Truman education is, and we are in a position to help others. This just seemed like the right thing to do,” Jan said. “Truman enrolls a highly qualified student body, and competition among applicants for limited scholarship resources can be fierce.”

ShepherdStoryDan (’79) and Jan (’76) are the owners and operators of Shepherd Farms, a large and diverse farming operation in northern Missouri specializing in pecans. Their donation comes in the form of a planned gift arrangement through their estate and calls for the creation of two new scholarship endowments of $3 million each. These new funds will provide recipients with up to 50 percent of the total cost of tuition, as well as room and board, for each academic year.

The Dan and Jan Shepherd International Student Scholarship will offer resources exclusively to international students. The Shepherds have hosted many exchange students over the years, making them well aware of the struggles those students can face.

“Many of them would have liked to attend college in the U.S., but the money was just not available,” Dan said. “With this one, we might be able to help some really talented kids experience life in the U.S., and also add to the understanding of the local students that it is a big world.”

Similarly, the Dan and Jan Shepherd Scholarship will support domestic students attending Truman.

To ensure scholarship resources are available to a broad spectrum of talented students, recipients of these awards will fall within the University’s mid-range parameters on academic transcripts and college entrance exam results.

“Everyone who has the ability and the desire to pursue an education deserves that opportunity,” Dan said. “There are a lot of ways for the academically elite to finance their education, which is great, but with the criteria of these scholarships, we are hoping to expand access to a Truman education to an even larger pool of students.”

In addition to establishing the two scholarship endowments, the remaining $1 million of the Shepherds’ donation is an unrestricted gift to be used to support the greatest needs of the University.

Pursue the Future: Mission Enhancement/Truman Fund for Excellence

CampaignLogo-Pursue-FINAL-OLThe Fund for Excellence allows the University to provide support for a variety of opportunities that make a Truman education exceptional. This can include cultural programming, study abroad and internship stipends, library enhancements and faculty development, as well as equipment and technology purchases.

MoInternshipOne of the most transformative experiences offered at Truman, made possible by the Fund for Excellence, is the Missouri Government Internship Program. It allows students to spend the spring semester interning with a legislator, public official or state agency at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

In addition to providing students of all majors an inside look at state government and the political process, the program has special appeal for those anticipating careers in business, law, public relations, communication, government service or public affairs. Many interns parlay their experience into a full-time job immediately upon graduation, and some have gone on to occupy prominent positions in state and federal government thanks to the doors opened by the Missouri Government Internship Program. Marty Romitti (’90) credits the internship with helping him on his career path. He is currently the senior vice president at the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness in Arlington, Va. The independent, not-for-profit organization helps policy-makers around the world with innovative job-creating economic strategies.

“My participation in the Missouri Government Internship Program at Truman stands out as one of the most valuable educational experiences I have had,” Romitti said. “Not only did it help me as a student to confirm my interest in pursuing a career in public service, but the opportunities, experiences and relationships I developed from taking part in the program have continued to benefit my career long after graduation.”

One of the oldest and most prestigious programs in the state, Truman has been offering the Missouri Government Internship since 1972. Thanks to the generous contributions of alumni and former interns, an endowment was established in 2006 to provide a permanent source of revenue to support and expand the program. These funds help defray the cost of living and working in Jefferson City for a semester.

Pursue the Future: Athletics

CampaignLogo-Pursue-FINAL-OLGifts to the Bulldog Fund, as well as those dedicated to individual teams, enhance operations, equipment and scholarships that are essential to maintaining the highest-quality facilities and athletic programs.

LesseigAthleticsIn a show of respect and appreciation to her former coach, Jaime (Geer) Steinman (’00), along with her husband David, established the Sam Lesseig Women’s Golf Scholarship in 2013.

Lesseig, an associate professor emeritus of mathematics, joined the University in 1963 and was responsible for establishing the women’s golf program in 1985. He served as the head coach until his untimely passing in 2013. During his 28 years as coach, Lesseig produced two All-Americans and 14 academic All-Americans while leading the Bulldogs to 11 postseason appearances at the National Golf Coaches Association Division II National Championships and the NCAA Division II and III Women’s Golf Championships. In 1999-2000, four members of the team were named to the NGCA all-academic team, the most in school history.

Steinman was a four-year letter winner for the golf team. To honor her late coach, she and her husband committed $7,500 — halfway to the endowment level — to create the Sam Lesseig Women’s Golf Scholarship. When it is fully funded, it will be awarded to a golfer at the coach’s discretion who exhibits integrity and excellent work ethic in practice and competition.

Julie Williams (’09) is an alumna of the program and has helped Truman solicit funds for the scholarship.

“In Coach’s absence, I want Truman women’s golf to carry on in the way he built it — a competitive team made of players who have other talents and interests they’re able to pursue in college,” Williams said. “Coach’s name should always be associated with our program, and I’m thankful the University has set up a scholarship fund so that can happen.”

Pursue the Future: Academic Programs and Faculty Support

Gifts to this priority will channel resources to bolster the teaching-learning environment at Truman. Reductions in state appropriation have resulted in pressure on operating budgets across the campus, and private gifts can provide additional resources for deans and department chairs to offset the pressure.

DebKerbyDebra Kerby, dean of the School of Business, established the Kerby Family Business Excellence Fund to continue to provide progressive technology and learning opportunities for students, faculty and staff within the School of Business. Kerby has a great history with the University as she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in business education from Truman. As a student, she received financial support and saw this as an opportunity to pay it forward.

“Because of the scholarships and educational stipends that I received as a Truman student and employee, the cost of my undergraduate and graduate education was nominal,” she said. “It’s my responsibility to assist by financially supporting educational opportunities for others.”

By establishing this fund, Kerby is able to see firsthand the opportunities and support derived from her donation.

“The mission of the School of Business is focused on the personal and professional development of students as prospective business and civic leaders rather than accomplishments of the faculty,” Kerby said. “Employers tell us that Truman graduates are better communicators, better thinkers and more hard-working than many they hire from other institutions.”

In addition to assisting students, the Kerby Family Business Excellence Fund will support faculty through providing resources to attend academic conferences and support additional opportunities for research.


Pursue the Future: Schlolarships

For some students, finding a way to pay for tuition can be more difficult than any challenge they may face in the classroom. To combat that problem, more than half of the resources of the “Pursue the Future” campaign will be directed toward student scholarships.

BairdScholarshipKay (Dewey) Baird (’62) is among the growing number of alumni who are doing what they can to help. Baird counts her education as one of her greatest assets and credits the University with helping her achieve her goals, develop leadership skills and create friendships that have lasted more than 50 years. By her own description, her life is “truly blessed,” and she is actively pursuing ways to pay her good fortune forward.

“It is important to help young people attain their goals through higher education,” Baird said. “As a result, they will hopefully enjoy a better life and learn the importance of sharing their good fortune with others.”

Baird has subscribed to that philosophy for years. She and her husband Thom even incorporated a tuition reimbursement program for their employees at the small planning services business they established in Plano, Texas. Thom passed away in 2013, but Baird has found a way to honor her late husband while simultaneously helping students in need. Through the Truman State University Foundation she established the S. Kay (Dewey) Baird and Thomas M. Baird Annual Scholarship.

“My husband was a very giving person,” she said. “I believe he would be humbled that I have chosen to honor him in this way.”

In addition to acknowledging her husband, the scholarship pays tribute to her northeast Missouri roots. Keeping in mind that students from rural America are not immune to economic hardships, Baird’s scholarship gives special consideration to students from her home area of Pike County.

Many of the things Baird enjoyed with her husband are still a part of her life. She travels and is involved in the community. The planning services business the couple started is now under the leadership of their son and she continues to work there. By creating a scholarship in her husband’s honor, their gracious spirit will live on for years to come.


Pursue the Future a Campaign for Truman

Truman State University has publicly announced a $40 million comprehensive fundraising campaign entitled “Pursue the Future.” The public launch was initiated by President Troy D. Paino at a press conference and special ceremony during Homecoming 2015 festivities.

“Private gift support from alumni and friends is an important component of our plan to protect Truman’s distinctive qualities,” Paino said. “With diminished funding for higher education at the state level and nationwide, this campaign will channel additional resources to key areas such as student scholarships and academic program support.”

The campaign has four priorities – scholarships, academic program and faculty support, athletics and unrestricted giving through the Truman Fund for Excellence.

The $40 million fundraising effort is designed to expand educational opportunities and strengthen Truman’s core tenets of access and exceptional value. In recent years, competing priorities for taxpayer dollars have led to declining public support for higher education nationwide and threaten to place Truman’s exceptional education out of the financial reach of many qualified students. It also makes it more difficult for the institution to hire and retain high-quality faculty. “Pursue the Future” is a five-year endeavor, and its priorities embody themes essential to Truman’s mission.

Need-based and merit scholarships represent $25 million of the campaign’s overall goal.

“Central to Truman’s mission is providing deserving students from all social backgrounds the access to a high-quality liberal arts experience,” Paino said.

A goal of $10 million has been established for academic programs and faculty support, designed to help offset the status quo or reductions within the operating budgets of schools and departments across campus due to lingering budgetary pressure. A target of $2.5 million has been set to improve facilities, programs and scholarships for intercollegiate athletics. The campaign’s final priority is $2.5 million for unrestricted giving, allowing resources to be directed to areas of greatest need.

As the percentage of state support relative to Truman’s overall budget continues to wane, the need to grow the University’s endowment cannot be overemphasized. Truman competes for students with schools that wield significantly larger endowments, resulting in a competitive advantage for those institutions.

Since its inception in 1980, the Truman State University Foundation has worked to advance the school’s mission of providing an outstanding liberal arts education to deserving students.

After 35 years of securing private gifts to the University, the Foundation endowment is currently valued at slightly more than $39 million. As impressive as that number is, it pales in comparison to the endowments of other universities with which Truman is regularly compared and often competes with for students, even in the state of Missouri. According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, St. Louis University and the University of Missouri system both have endowments in excess of one billion dollars, and Washington University in St. Louis has more than six billion in endowments. Bolstering Truman’s endowment fortifies the long-term health and sustainability of the University.

Truman began the advanced gifts, or “quiet phase,” of the five-year campaign on July 1, 2013, and has been generating cash, multi-year pledges and deferred gift commitments toward the goal. To date, the campaign has received $26.3 million in gift commitments from 10,868 donors. So far, a total of 80 new funds have been established, including 50 scholarship funds. More than $17 million has been raised for student scholarships.

“Pursue the Future” is Truman’s second fundraising campaign, and University officials are hopeful it will be as successful as the first. The “Bright Minds Bright Futures” campaign was a five-year endeavor that concluded in 2011 after surpassing its $30 million goal.

The results from the “Bright Minds Bright Futures” campaign were substantial and immediately felt. More than $14 million went directly to students in the form of scholarships. Nearly 200 new Foundation funds were established, including 120 new scholarships. Support from the first campaign also led to the revitalization of the annual Children’s Literature Festival on campus, as well as the creation of both the Holman Family Distinguished Speakers Series and the University’s first-ever endowed faculty chair.

“Pursue the Future” will continue to support the University and its students in the same manner.

Now that “Pursue the Future” is in its public phase, regional campaigns that align with Truman alumni chapters have been established in order to reach greater numbers of alumni on a more personal level. Regional locations include northeast Missouri, mid-Missouri, St. Louis, Kansas City, central Iowa, Chicago, Denver, Arizona, Dallas and the mid-Atlantic.

The public phase is designed to seek gift support from all Truman constituents to successfully complete the campaign.

A volunteer chair and campaign committee will guide efforts in those areas, including a campaign kickoff event followed by efforts to secure commitments from alumni and friends. More than 100 volunteers are expected to assist in the regional campaigns.

Donations to the University can come in many forms, and in the past, donors have come up with creative ways to make a statement with their gifts. Numerous Foundation scholarships have been established and named in honor of family members, friends and professors. Additionally, scholarships can be established to specifically aid students from a particular high school, region or area of study.

Exactly where a gift to the University is directed is entirely up to the giver. Some of the more popular funds include scholarships, athletics, the Kohlenberg Lyceum Series, Pickler Memorial Library and the Parent Project. All gifts to the Truman State University Foundation through 2018 will count toward the $40 million goal of the “Pursue the Future” campaign, and gifts of any size help make a difference.

Alumni and friends who are interested in making a gift to help support the “Pursue the Future” campaign can do so at any time.

Gifts can always be made online at In addition to submitting a payment online, visitors have the option to print a contribution form that can be mailed to the University, and donations are always accepted by phone. Information on planned gifts, matching gifts and various other ways to give back can be found online or by calling (800) 452-6678.

The campaign is scheduled to conclude in June 2018.