Kinder Institute at MU announces $10 million gift

Rich and Nancy Kinder donated $25 million in 2015 to form the Kinder Institute. They recently donated another $10 million in order to expand the programs that the institute offers.
Chancellor Alexander Cartwright speaks at a press conference on Nov. 12, 2019, regarding the recent $10 million gift from the Kinder Foundation to support new degree opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Courtesy of the MU News Bureau

A $10 million gift from the Kinder family to MU’s Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy was announced on Nov. 12.

The gift from the Kinder Foundation adds to a $25 million donation in 2015 which established the institute. The new gift will go toward two degree programs, a residential college and a partnership with the University of Oxford.

Rich Kinder said that him and his wife Nancy’s decision to make a new donation was based on the success that the institute has had in its first four years.

“We have been, frankly, astounded at how quickly the institute has achieved the objectives that we really started out with, and it is all due to Justin [Dyer] and the team,” Rich Kinder said. “We have obviously dealt with a lot of non-profits around the country, and this is as good of a team as we have ever seen.”

Dyer is an MU professor of political science and the director of the Kinder Institute. During the announcement, Dyer explained the new initiatives which the institute will undertake with the additional resources.

These include two new degree options which were approved by the Board of Curators in June. In partnership with the institute, the College of Arts and Science will now offer a bachelor of arts degree in constitutional democracy and master of arts in Atlantic history and politics. Dyer said a comprehensive understanding of Atlantic history is vital to understanding American history and politics.

“You can’t really understand America and the American experiment without understanding it in a broader global context, and specifically the Atlantic context,” Dyer said.

In addition to the degree programs, the institute will sponsor a residential college housed within Wolpers Hall. Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to live with others who are in the program and have their class schedules align when possible.

The final program to be established is an increased relationship between the institute and the University of Oxford in England. The institute already sponsors a week long trip to Oxford over Spring Break. Now there will be a scholarly exchange program as well. Students from MU will have the opportunity to study at Oxford as part of the institute’s undergraduate and graduate programs, and the institute will sponsor Oxford graduates’ participation in the Atlantic history and politics master’s degree program.

Helen Moore, president of Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford, had intended to attend the announcement, but was stranded in Chicago due to a winter storm. Instead, her prepared remarks were read to the crowd gathered at The State Historical Society of Missouri.

“We here in Oxford are proud to have the Kinder Institute and the University of Missouri as partners in the pursuit of intellectual excellence,” Moore told MU News Bureau. “We are thrilled at Corpus not only to host Mizzou students … but also to have Corpus students and faculty coming to Missouri to study in the heart of America.”

Senior political science major Riley Messer said she has found a great deal of value in the Kinder Institute over her four years at MU. She said it gave her a place to explore her interests with welcoming people, and she is excited to see what it can do for future students with these new programs.

“As a high school senior, I stumbled upon something known as the Kinder Institute which seemed to be built for history and politics nerds like me,” Messer said. “I know that I will always have a community, as well as a cozy place to have a Keurig coffee, on the fourth floor of Jesse Hall.”

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said Messer’s experience is a common one, and shows why the Kinder Institute is an invaluable asset to MU’s ability to recruit the best and brightest students.

“The thing that I find, at least from my viewpoint as the Chancellor, is that this institute has helped us to recruit incredible students,” Cartwright said. “Students are coming here because they see something in the Kinder Institute that they are interested in being a part of.”

Rich Kinder is a two-time MU graduate, having earned a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and a law degree in 1968. He is now a billionaire energy and pipeline executive and philanthropist known for his and his wife Nancy’s contributions in the Houston area, where they live. He said that he was happy to be able to give back to MU and expand opportunities for students at his alma mater.

“We were really enthused and happy to make the additional contribution, which together with the university’s support, will enable us to undertake all of these new ventures,” Rich Kinder said.

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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