Missouri State University-West Plains is starting its first endowed professorship.
At Friday’s Missouri State University Board of Governors meeting in Springfield, Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett will announce that university officials have received the minimum amount needed in donations and pledges, $250,000, to create the Donna Jones Endowed Professorship of Nursing.
The campaign, which gives donors the option of making a one-time gift or a pledge for an annual gift for the next five years, will continue throughout the summer in an effort to increase the professorship fund beyond the $250,000 minimum, he said. Several individuals and businesses already have indicated they are considering donating to the fund, he added, so university officials expect to receive additional gifts in the near future.
Those who already have donated toward the professorship include Denver and Seth Myers of West Plains, Willow Health Care Inc., West Vue Inc., Air Evac EMS Inc., Burton Creek Medical Complex, Marvin L. Fowler of West Plains, Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic, Penmac and Ozarks Medical Center, as well as several others who wished to remain anonymous, Bennett said.
“This is a major accomplishment for our campus,” he said. “This effort not only will help our nursing program, it will assist us in recruiting and retaining faculty of all disciplines. An endowed professorship tells everyone that this institution values our faculty. Many people in our region are willing to help students with scholarships. While this is extremely important, it is just as important to help the hard-working faculty who teach those students. It is my hope that this is the first of other endowed professorships for our campus.”
Now that the university has received commitments for $250,000, the university will begin paying the money that would be provided by that amount until the endowment is paid in full, Bennett said. As a result, the professorship will provide the money needed to add to the salary for its recipient, bringing that person closer to current market salaries, he explained.
This comes at a crucial time for the nursing department, which is limited to 45 slots each admission cycle for the Associate of Science in Nursing degree program. Each year, the number of area residents applying to the program far outnumbers the slots available, but any attempt to expand the program would require additional nursing instructors, a commodity that is becoming increasingly difficult to fulfill because of low faculty pay, Bennett said.
The fund-raising campaign for the professorship was announced May 3 at the “Last Lecture” by retiring Director of Nursing Donna Jones. The professorship was named in honor of Jones, who has spent the last 23 years teaching in Missouri State-West Plains’ nursing program.
Jones said she was thrilled to hear the money had been raised to fund the professorship. “I’m very honored. The nursing program is very close to my heart. It has been my life for 23 years, and having a way to attract and keep quality faculty means this program will continue to serve the needs of this area well into the future,” she said.
For more information about giving to the professorship or other ways to give to Missouri State-West Plains, call the development office at 417-255-7240 or visit the office’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/development/.