More Donor Stories


Frisbee Bonds Lead to ‘Ultimate’ Scholarship

Ultimate FrisbeeThe story of Sun Ultimate Frisbee, a 501(c)(3) organization that established an endowed scholarship through the Truman State University Foundation, began when a group of alumni friends gathered over a meal.

The peers developed a friendship during the early 2000s while participating on the men’s (JujiTSU) and women’s (TSUnami) ultimate frisbee teams. The group saw a need for an organizing body of college-level ultimate frisbee tournaments. Soon after, Sensei Ultimate was born, which was later renamed Sun Ultimate Frisbee.

The Sensei Alumni Ultimate Frisbee Endowed Scholarship is designated to support students participating on either the men’s or women’s ultimate frisbee team with financial need who demonstrate leadership, inclusion, sportsmanship, selflessness and player/team development.

Gift Provides Support Through Competition

Kirk MemorialAlumni donors are more important than ever to ensuring Truman’s tradition of excellence continues. Every year, thousands of alumni contribute back to their alma mater supporting scholarships, academic departments, athletics and more. Regardless of the size of the contribution, these gifts enhance the quality of the Truman experience for students and help build for the future.

While it’s certainly true that donations of all sizes make a big difference, that is a message that can be hard to communicate – especially to younger alumni. Unfortunately, the more time that passes after graduation, the less likely an alum is to give back at all. And those who do give back longer after graduating tend to give less than those who start giving back right after college

“Pursue the Future” Campaign Exceeds Goal

Foundation Banquet - Campaign Total $40,014,088In less than the allotted five years, Truman surpassed the $40 million goal in its “Pursue the Future” fundraising campaign. At the Truman State University Foundation Banquet, April 14, 2018, a surprise announcement revealed the campaign exceeded its original goal.

“I am grateful for each and every gift commitment that has been made during this campaign. It takes every single gift to reach a stretch goal,” said Charles Hunsaker, interim director for advancement. “With roughly seven years invested in this campaign, counting pre-campaign planning, it is so gratifying for our staff and volunteers to have surpassed this significant goal.”

Celebrating the Past, Pursuing the Future

Sesquicentennial - Truman State UniversityThe sesquicentennial year has been a great way to look back on the University’s history and celebrate the people, milestones and events that have shaped Truman. The 150th anniversary has also fueled a passion to build for the future – to ensure current and future Bulldogs have the same life-changing opportunities as the alumni who have gone before them. Two major fundraising efforts have centered around Truman’s special year: the 1867 Challenge and the renovation of Sesquicentennial Plaza.

“Pursue the Future” Campaign Tracking Toward a Successful Conclusion

Pursue the Future: A Campaign for TrumanWith less than six months remaining in the campaign, more than $38.1 million of the $40 million goal has been generously donated/pledged by alumni, parents and friends of Truman. Gift commitments are supporting the four campaign priorities of: Scholarships, Faculty, Development/Academic Program Support, Athletics and Mission Enhancement/Truman Fund for Excellence.

Truman Names First Charles J. McClain Pershing Scholar

Charles J. McClain Pershing ScholarThe vision of the late Charles McClain, who served as president of Truman State University from from 1970 to 1989, has played a major role in shaping the University we know today. He strove to ensure Truman would support the intellectual and personal development of talented young men and women. To help achieve this goal, he created the General John J. Pershing Scholarship in 1974. Thanks to donors like Jeff and Deanna Burns, the endowment is now able to support one Pershing Scholar who will receive the distinction of being named the Charles J. McClain Pershing Scholar.

The first annual Charles J. McClain Pershing Scholar was announced at the annual Pershing Reception on campus. Judge Ann Covington, widow of Dr. McClain, presented the award to Jacob Fallman, a senior from Oak Grove, Mo.

$25,000 Challenge Gift will help Truman Celebrate Sesquicentennial Year

Truman Celebrates 150 YearsThe University, founded by Joseph Baldwin in 1867, will be celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. The 150 year milestone also provides an opportunity for alumni and friends to provide financial support to help support the next 150 years and beyond.

To enhance the celebration activities, Mike (’85) and Janet (’84) McClaskey of Castle Pines, Co., have designated $25,000 from their overall cash commitment of $100,000 to be used as a challenge gift for the sesquicentennial year. Mike, who is currently serving as the president of the Foundation Board of Directors, knows the importance private support will play in Truman’s future. He and Janet hope their challenge gift will encourage alumni and friends to join the pursuit.

$90,000 Commitment Creates Excellence Fund for the School of Business

Jennifer AustinIn January 2017, Jennifer (’92, ’93) and Denis Austin made a $90,000 pledge in support of Truman State University’s School of Business. Jennifer, who received a bachelor and Master’s degree from Truman, is a partner at KPMG. She is working with colleagues to create a KPMG Excellence Fund. This new fund will provide multipurpose funding to strengthen Truman’s accounting program.

Legacy Gift is a Big Win for Athletics

Paul GarnettPersonal setback struck Paul Garnett (’73) when the would-be starting point guard for the Bulldogs blew out his knee at the beginning of the ’70-’71 basketball season. Unfortunately for the two-sport athlete, a string of injuries would keep him off of the court, as well as the baseball field, for much of his college career. However, through a generous provision in their will, Paul and his wife, Alicia (’74), are ensuring that Truman’s rich athletic heritage will thrive.

A Life-Altering Gift

Ken Rickli and Tiffany Shearer

Tiffany Shearer’s entire future, not to mention her ambition of attending college, was suddenly in peril when her mother abandoned her in 2012 at the start of her senior year at Affton High School.

“She said she was leaving to go on a three-week business trip and never returned home. The fact that my father has never been a part of my life, and my grandma had recently passed away, I really didn’t have any family or financial support,” Shearer said. Getting through her senior year was physically, mentally and emotionally draining.

Donors Give Back with Pitch Competition

Bulldog BITE ContestAn elevator pitch outlines the concept or idea for a product, service or project in a short period of time, typically from 30 seconds to three minutes. The length of the pitch mirrors the time spent waiting for and riding an elevator in a high-rise building. The purpose of the pitch is to spur the interest of a potential investor or financial backer.

Bulldog B.I.T.E., which stands for Business Innovation by Truman Entrepreneurs, allowed participants to pitch a for-profit or not-for-profit concept. Judges selected six teams to attend the live pitch competition in March in St. Louis to present their product to an alumni panel. Contestants were judged based on the problem, product/service solution, market, competition, value creation, seed money, a Q&A session and the presentation of the project.

Gift Forges International Relationships

Chi Candice Cheung

With the goal of facilitating increased cultural exchange between his native country and the United States, Chi Cheung and his wife Candace are providing an annual gift of $10,000 to the Foundation to support interns from Truman.

After immigrating from his ancestral home in Da Tian in the People’s Republic of China, Cheung built a successful community-based business in Jefferson City, Mo. In addition to their support of Truman, the Cheungs have a well-established history of philanthropic endeavors. They previously financed the building of a school in Chi’s rural hometown in the mountains of western China. In the fall of 2014, Truman students Michael Fentress and Summer Santos received the Cheung Annual Scholarship for the Truman EFL Internship in China and spent the semester teaching English at the school.

Former Faculty Member Establishes Scholarship to Help Business Students

School of Business StudentsPyung and Sue Han of Mountain View, Calif., made a contribution of $25,000 to establish the Dr. and Mrs. Pyung E. Han Scholarship.
Designed to support high-achieving business administration students with financial need, the Han’s hope this scholarship will allow exceptional students the opportunity to attend Truman and develop extraordinary leadership skills. The scholarship will be available for upper-class business administration students who are already active in community and/or extracurricular activities and have demonstrated leadership.

Gift Supports Unique Internship
Arnold ZuckermanThe Dr. Arnold Zuckerman Digital History Internship of Sustainability at Truman was created through a $15,000 gift from Zuckerman’s stepdaughter, Judi G. Schweitzer of Lake Forest, Calif. The fund provides an annual internship experience for a history student who also possesses an interest in honing his or her website design skills. Students selected for the internship work with Truman’s Sustainability Committee to develop an ongoing digital history of sustainability at the University.
Essie and Harry GardnerA Son Honors His Parents
Alumnus Mark Gardner (’75) named a scholarship in honor of his parents, Harry and Essie (Kelley) Gardner, as a tribute to the family’s passion for lifelong learning and their belief that education is the foundation of civilized society.
Leone-Patterson Scholarship Established
Prospective students from Kansas, Nebraska and other western states now have an added incentive to attend Truman thanks to a gift from Ann and Gary Patterson of Wichita, Kan., and their son, Tyler. The Leone-Patterson Endowed and Annual Scholarship is designed for students from those states who have unmet need, have active involvement and leadership in extra-curricular activities and a minimum high school grade point average of 3.25.
Lydia Inman FjeldDr. Lydia Inman Fjeld Scholarship Established
Dr. Lydia Inman Fjeld gave selflessly to Truman  throughout her life. She arrived at the University in 1973 after accepting the position of head of the Division of Home Economics. Shortly thereafter, in 1975, she was named dean of graduate studies, a position she occupied until her retirement in 1983.
Truman State University signEstate Gift Salutes Family Doctor
The Dr. Samuel Lloyd Simpson Scholarship Fund was established at Truman State University by members of his family and a bequest from the estate of his daughter, Betty Jo Simpson Oswald (’69, ’72).
Del and Norma Robison Planetarium and Multimedia Theater at TrumanDel and Norma Robison Planetarium and Multimedia Theater
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 2014.
Lola Gordon BellBell Family Foundation Honors Kirksville Roots with Scholarship Gift
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

Mackenzie Kathleen McDermottScholarship Created to Remember Student
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.
TeriHeckert-241x300.jpgScholarship Endowment to Honor Professor and University Leader
Dr. Teri Heckert, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, displayed remarkable courage as her fierce battle with cancer concluded, Feb. 19, 2014. To memorialize and commemorate her significant and lasting contributions to the University, family and friends established the Dr. Teresa M. Heckert Memorial Scholarship in Psychology.
BartlingsScholarship Funds Honor Faculty Couple, Colleagues
Between them, John and Jane Bartling taught and mentored hundreds of Truman students. To recognize and commemorate this long record of service to students and the campus community, Dr. John S. Bartling recently made a gift of securities valued at nearly $65,000 to establish four new scholarship funds with the Truman State University Foundation.

Ron and Billie WigginsContributions From IRA Provide Tax-Free Support for Annual Scholarship
While registering for his freshman year at Marceline High School, Ron Wiggins (’59) first encountered a new graduate of Northeast Missouri State Teachers College who would prove to have a profound and lasting influence on his life