MU endowment surpasses $1 billion

Out of 1,644 public universities, MU is the 37th school to exceed the $1 billion mark.

The MU endowment has surpassed $1 billion, according to university officials at a press conference Wednesday morning in Jesse Hall.

Tom Hiles, vice chancellor for advancement, said the endowment currently stands at around $1.3 billion.

MU uses the financial endowment to provide ongoing support for the university through investments that bring increased returns for future spending. This allows donations to have an impact over a longer period of time.

“Endowed gifts are a great way to leave a lasting legacy,” Hiles said. “It is inspiring to know that 100 years from now, these gifts will continue to make a difference.”

This milestone comes six years after the launch of the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign, an initiative aimed at raising money for the university through donations in three priority areas.

These priority areas include creating new signature centers and institutes focused on fueling research and service to the public, creating new campus buildings and increasing the endowment.

Since the campaign’s official launch in October of 2015, the endowment has increased by over $400 million.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright expressed his gratitude and optimism for the overwhelming support from donors.

“Generations of donors have graciously invested in our students and faculty, and we cannot thank them enough for their long-term vision and generosity,” Cartwright said. “Our students and faculty achieve great things when we give them the support they need to pursue their passions in education, research and engagement.”

At the press conference, several key donors and beneficiaries spoke on the importance the endowment has for the university.

Mark Wilkins, who donated $1 million to create the Mark A. Wilkins Fund for Excellence in the College of Arts and Science in 2015, cited his primary motivations for donating.

“I strongly, strongly believe in a liberal arts education,” Wilkins said.

Susan Empson, who holds the endowed Richard Miller Chair of Mathematics Education in the College of Education, discussed the role the endowment plays in her work. For Empson, the endowment allows her to implement the research done at MU into real classrooms.

"I wouldn’t be here at Mizzou if it weren’t for the endowment," Empson said.

The final featured speaker, Alicia Curran, became a project coordinator at the endowment-supported Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders after she received support for her autism-affected son from the center.

"The care we received is exactly why I wanted to be a part of the Thompson Center," Curran said.

Many at the university are optimistic about not only the support the endowment can provide but also about what it means in terms of community sentiment for the university.

“In 2015...we had all these protests on campus, and the president and the chancellor both resigned, and with that, we got a lot of negative national coverage, so we didn’t look too good and a lot of people were worried, but even with the concern, our alumni set a record of donating over $171 million that year,” Hiles said. “So we would not be in the position to celebrate this landmark occasion without the support and loyalty of our alums and friends of the university.”

Edited by Sarah Hallam |

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