Three major gifts take Missouri State campaign over $100 million milestone

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Thanks to three major gifts, Missouri State University’s comprehensive campaign has exceeded the $100 million milestone. In recognition of the gifts, for the first time in its history, the university will name academic units for the donors.

The $125 million campaign, titled “Our Promise:  The Campaign for Missouri State University,” was announced Aug. 28. At that time, about $94 million had been pledged or received.

William H. Darr School of Agriculture

William H. Darr School of Agriculture

The three major gifts include a gift for the Darr Agricultural Center by William H. and Virginia Darr, for whom the William H. Darr School of Agriculture will now be named; an estate gift from the late Dr. Bernice “Bernie” Warren, long-time faculty member and administrator, for whom the Bernice Warren Center for Archaeological Research will be named; and a lead gift commitment to support the new University Recreation Center, with the details of the gift and naming to come at a later date.

“These three significant gifts cover a wide range of needs at the university and come from three individuals and families who have a long connection with Missouri State,” said Missouri State President Michael T. Nietzel. “We very much appreciate their generous contributions and we are thrilled that they move us above the $100 million milestone for the campaign.

“And it also is significant that Missouri State has reached a point in its history where we name academic units to recognize major gifts. Academics and students continue to be our emphasis, and the naming of these units is additional evidence of that focus.”

The Darrs have had a long history of supporting the university. They are both graduates of Missouri State University. Mr. Darr is a past member of the Board of Governors, a past president and member of the Missouri State Foundation, and was the co-chair of the university’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign, “The Campaign for SMS: Imagine the Possibilities,” which concluded in 2005 by exceeding the $50 million goal.

Bernice Warren Center for Archaeological Research

Bernice Warren Center for Archaeological Research

Over the years, the Darrs have supported Missouri State and all three of its campuses with private gifts. The Darrs have made capital gifts in support of the William H. Darr Agricultural Center, Karls Hall, Wehr Band Hall and facilities in Mountain Grove. The Darrs have supported students through scholarships and graduate assistantships on the Springfield campus in agriculture, broadcast journalism and piano, as well as a scholarship for the benefit of students at MSU-West Plains.

In addition, the Darrs have enhanced program development through their contributions to intercollegiate athletics; Ozarks Public Television; the Pride Band; the department of communication; the College of Arts and Letters; the department of modern and classical languages; Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts; the department of media, journalism and film; the department of graphic design; the department of agriculture; and the Duane G. Meyer Library.

In 2003, Missouri State presented the Bronze Bear Award to the Darrs for their long-time significant support for the university.

In her will, Warren provided for her estate to benefit intercollegiate athletics and the Center for Archaeological Research. Specifically, she wanted her estate to help provide scholarships for female student-athletes.

Warren began her career at Missouri State University in the English department in 1969. Part of her lasting legacy is her role as the founder of the successful Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) program, which continues to this day.

University Recreation Center

University Recreation Center

In 1974, she started a career as an administrator, which continued until her retirement in 1999. She first served as the assistant dean of faculties before becoming the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, now the College of Humanities and Public Affairs, in 1985. She was the first woman to serve as a college dean at Missouri State.

In recognition of her many contributions to the university, Missouri State awarded her the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1994; she was also inducted to the Missouri State University Wall of Fame in 2005.

This is the first major gift for the 100,000-square-foot $32 million University Recreation Center. The facility is largely being funded through a student-initiated student fee.

Groundbreaking for the new center is expected in early 2010, with completion expected in fall 2011. The center will be located just west of Blair-Shannon Residence Hall on land currently occupied by tennis courts.

The facility will include two gyms, a multi-purpose court, a bouldering/climbing wall, an indoor track, a cardio-fitness center, locker rooms, and multi-purpose rooms for fitness assessment, dance, wrestling, and martial arts. These elements will be connected with a walkway to the aquatics center, a high priority for both student leaders and students on the design committee.

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