A St. Louis couple have donated $300 million to a foundation that will support Missouri University of Science and Technology, the largest single gift in the history of Missouri higher education.
The gift from Fred Kummer, who graduated from the institution now known as Missouri S&T in 1955, and his wife June was announced Monday.
The record-setting donation will allow the university to establish a school of innovation and entrepreneurship, develop new areas for research, bolster the economic in Rolla and provide numerous scholarships and fellowships for students.
“This gift is transformative for S&T, the Rolla region and our state,” said Mo Dehghani, Missouri S&T chancellor, in a news release.
Missouri S&T was founded in 1870 as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy. The 8,000-student campus in Rolla is part of the four-campus University of Missouri system and home to 99 degree programs in 40 areas of study.
In the release, Dehghani said the gift will make the university a center for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“With this gift, we expect to be able to dramatically increase the size of our student body, recruit outstanding new faculty, establish powerful new centers of research, and engage with the community in new and exciting ways,” Dehghani said.
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Fred Kummer, 91, credited his education in Rolla as a critical part of his success. He earned a degree in civil engineering.
He is the founder and chairman of St. Louis-based HBE Corp., which he established in 1960 and built into the world’s leading design-build firm for health care.
“My Rolla experience taught me how to think, how to work hard and how to manage my own career,” he said, in the release. “June and I believe in the mission of this great university, and that’s why we have chosen to invest in S&T’s future success. We believe that Missouri S&T’s best days are ahead.”
Creating a new foundation
The gift prompted the creation of a new not-for-profit foundation, The Kummer Institute Foundation, which will support these initiatives at Missouri S&T:
- A new, independent, university-affiliated research and development entity. Four new research centers – focused on infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, and environmental and resource sustainability – will stand at the heart of this entity, which will be supported by research space in the Rolla area. The new entity will serve as the university’s node for partnerships with industry, public and private research foundations, and governmental agencies to stimulate business innovation, provide corporate research and development, and develop prototypes for new products.
- The Kummer School of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, a new school within the university that will combine business-related academic programs with new programs related to innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Numerous other new programs and enhancements, including scholarships and fellowships for high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students.
- Expansion of Missouri S&T’s online degree programs.
- New research faculty positions.
- Expansion and renovation of existing structures.
- Construction of new buildings and labs.
- Greater community outreach through new initiatives in student-community engagement, a lecture series, and a shuttle service between S&T and St. Louis to bring students from the metropolitan area to Rolla for camps, campus visits and other activities.
“Each of the four centers will build on S&T’s strengths and will leverage existing research expertise, but they will rapidly accelerate our research and development efforts through the addition of new faculty and graduate students, including new Ph.D. Kummer Fellows,” Dehghani said, in the release.
“Everything about The Kummer Institute Foundation is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship – just as June and Fred themselves have been throughout the years,” Dehghani added. “Their gift will position S&T as a recognized leader in innovation and entrepreneurial education, and for that we are truly grateful.”
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To put the size of the gift in context, Missouri State University went public with a multi-year fundraising campaign in October 2019 to raise $250 million. At the time, MSU had raised more than $151 million from 50,000 donors.
About the Kummers
June and Fred Kummer have repeatedly donated to Missouri S&T. Here are a few of the ways they have helped the university:
- Provided the lead gift for the Kummer Student Design Center, which houses Missouri S&T’s 19 student-run design teams.
- Supported the expansion in the 1990s of Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Hall and, in the early 2000s, of Toomey Hall, which houses S&T’s mechanical and aerospace engineering programs.
- In recognition of June’s passion for landscaping and gardening, the Kummers provided a gift to name the Fred and June Kummer Garden at Hasselmann Alumni House.
Kummer is a past member of the Missouri S&T Board of Trustees and the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: ‘Transformational’ $300M gift to Missouri S&T sets new record for MO higher ed giving