Article Category Archives: Giving Matters

Del and Norma Robison Planetarium and Multimedia Theater Now Open

Through a partnership of University resources and private contributions, the Del and Norma Robison Planetarium and Multimedia Theater at Truman was unveiled to the public during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Homecoming.

Located in Magruder Hall, the Planetarium enhances Truman’s educational mission as a liberal arts and sciences institution and strengthens the regional recruitment of students by bringPlanetarium-Inside-Oct2014-3of5ing them on campus for presentations and performances. The facility is an academic resource to support Truman courses in the sciences and fine arts, a community resource for regularly scheduled shows for the general public and an academic outreach by providing programming for local K-12 and homeschool populations.

Del and Norma Robison of Kirksville have made a gift to help complete the project. The Robisons are 1957 graduates of the University and enjoyed long and distinguished teaching careers, including service to Novinger, Moberly and St. Louis area schools. While residents of Chesterfield, Mo., and teaching in the Pattonville School District, Del was actively involved in securing a grant to equip the district with a planetarium and observatory, becoming one of the few school districts to have such a facility.

The 60-seat, 1,800-square-foot Planetarium and Multimedia Theater project started in 2005 with the expansion and renovation of Magruder Hall. With the help of private donations from alumni, parents and friends of the University, the Planetarium is now the only such facility in nearly a 100-mile radius of Kirksville.


A Day for Donors

Tag-Day-3On Nov. 14, 2014, Truman showed its appreciation for donors by tagging items around campus made possible by donations to the University. The goal of the day was not only to express gratitude to those who have given back to the University, but also to raise awareness on campus of how donors impact day-to-day life at Truman.

Donors support more than 600 funds and have a measurable impact in tangible ways (such as classroom enhancements, computer labs, athletic locker rooms), as well as intangible ways (through support of scholarships and student learning experiences).

Tag-Day-2This year on Tag Day, students got the chance to thank donors firsthand. Students helped place the tags for the event and signed a thank you card celebrating donors. Students also showed their appreciation by taking photos with tags and sharing them on social media. For more information on Tag Day, visit

Scholarship Created to Remember Student

Mackenzie McDermott

Mackenzie McDermott

Family and friends established the Mackenzie Kathleen McDermott Memorial Scholarship Fund in loving memory of the Truman student who passed away in October 2014. Mackenzie was a junior from Springfield, Ill., and St. Louis, Mo., majoring in both English and sociology/anthropology.

Mackenzie’s parents, Stacy Pratt McDermott and Kevin McDermott, chose to create a scholarship fund at Truman to honor their daughter’s memory and to provide financial support for future generations of Truman students who, like Mackenzie, possess a passion for creative writing. The fund will provide annual scholarship support for a Truman student majoring or minoring in creative writing. It is the first Foundation scholarship for creative writing students.

A number of benefits organized by her friends and family have helped the fund reach the endowment level. One benefit, “Music for Mac,” was held in St. Louis and was organized by co-workers of Mackenzie’s father Kevin at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This benefit provided an opportunity for friends and family to share one of Mackenzie’s great loves–music–while also supporting her scholarship with more than $2,500 in gifts.

The Mackenzie Kathleen McDermott Memorial Scholarship will make its inaugural award in the fall. The scholarship has already received more than $18,000 from nearly 150 gifts since its creation.

Estate Gift Salutes Family Doctor

The Dr. Samuel Lloyd Simpson Scholarship Fund was established in 2014 by members of his family and a bequest from the estate of his daughter, Betty Jo Simpson Oswald (’69, ’72).

Simpson was a well-known country doctor who practiced in the Leonard, Novelty, Bethel and Shelbina areas for many years, providing health care to rural and community residents. During his 30 years in practice, Simpson, who passed away in 1950, officiated the births of more than 2,500 babies, having never lost a mother.

The Simpson family has a deep history with the University. Betty Jo received Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Arts degrees. Her son and daughter, Sam Duncan (’70) and Deborah Coco (’72), are also graduates.

The scholarship will support full-time Truman students who are natives of Shelby County, Mo. The scholarship will be fortified with additional gifts from Sam Duncan and matching gifts from his former employer, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Bell Family Foundation Honors Kirksville Roots with Scholarship Gift

Lola Gordon Bell

Lola Gordon Bell

Truman has received a $50,000 grant from the Bell Family Foundation of San Francisco, Calif., to establish an endowed scholarship program for students studying computer science.

The gift was made to honor the late Lola Gordon Bell, a 1923 graduate of Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, and Sharon Bell Smith, a 1961 graduate, respectively the mother and sister of the foundation’s founder, C. Gordon Bell of San Francisco. The Lola Bell and Sharon Bell Smith Computer Science Scholarship will be awarded to computer science students with financial need, leadership abilities and graduate school potential.

Lola Bell taught fourth grade at the Kirksville Normal School (Greenwood) and later, until the age of 90, to homebound students. Sharon Bell Smith is a retired teacher living in Bethany, Mo.

Gordon Bell was raised in Kirksville and became interested in electrical engineering by repairing appliances and wiring homes while working with the family business, Bell Electric. He earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering from MIT and was an early employee of the Digital Equipment Corporation, eventually serving as the vice president of research and development.

Sharon Bell Smith

Sharon Bell Smith

An entrepreneur and investor, some of Bell’s career activities have included serving on the faculty of Carnegie-Mellon University as well as being the first National Science Foundation assistant director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. He was also a public policy advisor and researcher at Microsoft Research. George H.W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1991.

Bell co-founded the Computer Museum in Boston, Mass., and is a founding board member of its successor, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

In the fall of 2013, Bell returned to Kirksville to meet with Truman computer science students and faculty.