Article Category Archives: Giving Matters

Significant Gift Provides Renovation for Health and Exercise Science Space

With a gift from Gary and Millie Schell, the Athletics/Pershing Building Weight Facility opened in 1999. After nearly 25 years of consistent use, the space was in need of a facelift and Gary and Millie’s son and daughter-in-law, Mark (’97) and Jill (Mathys) Schell (’98), provided a generous six-figure gift to install new flooring, equipment and technology to help create a more useable and contemporary facility.

“Before summer 2023, Exercise Science was lacking a dedicated space for teaching students many of the kinesthetic and psychomotor competencies that form the foundation of exercise science-related skills,” said Julene Ensign, associate professor of health and exercise science.

The Schell Family Weightroom is used for exercise science classes of all levels, ROTC program strength and conditioning, weight training for a few Bulldog athletic teams, and community outreach. The Schell family continues to help Truman meet current and future needs.

“Through the generous support from the Schells, Truman is providing future personal trainers, physical educators and other pre-professional students a unique opportunity to develop applicable knowledge that will serve them well in their future careers,” Ensign said.

Impactful Gift Continues to Spark Imagination

The Children’s Literature Festival has a long history of bringing middle grade students to campus to meet and learn from authors and illustrators. When the program was cut in 2004 because of budget constraints, the Travis W. Freeman Foundation made a generous gift so this special program could continue.

On April 12, more than 1,200 students from 19 different schools and homeschools came to Truman’s campus – some from 150 miles away – to celebrate the value of literature. Students, teachers and librarians spent the day in sessions with the authors hearing about the creative process of writing, drawing and the value of reading. Books by all of the authors were even available for purchase at the University Bookstore. The 2024 festival ended with a public banquet featuring speaker and author Pablo Cartaya, an internationally acclaimed author, screenwriter, speaker and educator.

Family Scholarship Celebrates Strong Truman Connections

After many years serving the Kirksville community as an attorney, Scott Templeton began working as an assistant professor of business at the University in 2019. He teaches Legal Environment of Business and Commercial Law courses. Heidi Templeton worked for Truman for 28 years, serving as the director of public relations, mentoring countless students through the Jefferson City internship program and the Public Relations Office student internship. Their daughter Callie Templeton O’Donnell (’16, ’17) graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s in communication disorders, and their son Carter “Brooks” Templeton (’18) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication. Callie’s husband, Tommy O’Donnell (’14), earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Truman as well.

To honor their family’s strong connection and meaningful history with the University, Scott and Heidi established the Templeton Family Endowed Scholarship in 2023. The Templeton’s scholarship is for incoming students interested in majoring in communication, communication disorders, business administration or accounting. Wanting to make an immediate impact, they started an annual scholarship at the same time, so that while their endowed fund grows, the first Templeton Family Scholarship student can begin at Truman in August 2024.

Shelter Insurance Provides Career Pathways and Financial Support for Data Science Students

Data Science is a fast-growing discipline.

In addition to the online certificate program and Master of Science degree, a bachelor’s degree will be offered at the University for the first time in the coming school year. Data science students at Truman are equipped with the skills to discover meaning in data. Key courses include computer science, statistics and mathematics, among other fields. As this program area grows it has been important to develop corporate partnerships to provide Truman students with scholarship, internship and hands-on learning opportunities.

In December 2021, Truman alumna Randa Rawlins (’79), retired president and CEO of Shelter Insurance and the Shelter Insurance Foundation, started the Shelter Insurance Data Science Scholarship for rising seniors. The partnership with Shelter also created an internship pathway program for Truman’s undergraduate data science students at the Shelter Insurance corporate office in Columbia, Missouri. The vision and generosity of alumni like Rawlins and corporate partners like Shelter Insurance are helping students graduate with little-to-no student loan debt, while also receiving high-impact workplace experiences and expanding their professional networks.

Foundation Celebration Recognizes the Impact of Private Support

The Foundation Celebration took place on campus, April 6.

Dr. Gail B. Crump (’64) and Dan (’79) and Jan (’76) Shepherd were honored with the prestigious President’s Leadership Award recognizing their many years of volunteerism and generous financial support of the University. Truman’s relationship with the Bayer Corporation was recognized through the Distinguished Corporation/Foundation Award. Guests were treated to student spotlights, which included incredible music performances and presentations from current students about their Truman experiences. Additionally, more than 100 alumni and friends were recognized as new members of the University’s prestigious giving societies.

For a listing of all of Truman’s giving societies, go to

Bulldogs Turn Out in Support of Giving Week

Giving Week was April 22-26 in honor of National Bulldogs are Beautiful Day. As part of this exciting initiative, the University highlighted six special campaign areas and one Foundation Board Challenge.

Bertha Thomas Legacy Scholarship – This scholarship was established in 2023 to honor Thomas, former assistant dean of Multicultural Affairs, for her substantial contributions to students, campus and the Kirksville community. Floyd Simpson (’02) provided $3,000 for a 1:1 giving match.

Embedded Tutoring – This program, sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence, places a tutor in select classrooms to assist student learning. Classes with embedded tutors have an increased overall GPA, and students self-report higher grades. An anonymous donor provided $3,000 for a 1:1 match.

Farm-to-Table Initiative Cindy Spiker (’93) and Michele Hoyne (’90) gave $4,300 for a 1:1 match for this new collaboration with the University Farm to bring healthy, fresh, organic produce and goods to the dining halls.

Forensics – A 1:1 match up to $5,000 was available through the generosity of Nishant Bhajaria (’03) to support the Truman Forensics Union in their travel and expenses for competitions. An additional $5,000 donation from an anonymous alumni couple was made for reaching the challenge goal of
50 donors to the effort.

Gregg Nesbitt Football Scholarship – Gifts honoring retired head coach Gregg Nesbitt (’80) were matched up to $10,000 through the generosity of McLeod Express, LLC owned by Mark “Mac” McLeod (’85).

Health and Exercise Sciences Experiential FundCalaneet Balas (’97) provided $12,500 through a 1:1 match for a fund that will allow health and exercise science students to participate in high-impact experiences in a wide variety of
off-campus settings.

Better – Because of You (Foundation Board Challenge) – To honor the way each donor makes Truman a better place, members of the Foundation Board
of Directors gave $15,000 for a 2:1 match to any Foundation fund.


Total raised – $133,329

299 donors

Average gift – $268.88

365 gifts

81 different funds supported