Inaugural Nobel Scholars announced, Mizzou surpasses campaign goal

MU notes endowed positions, signature centers and institutes as other impacts from philanthropic giving.

March 6, 2020
Contact: Liz McCune, 573-882-6212,

University of Missouri officials announced they have selected the 20 students who will receive the university’s first Nobel scholarships as they celebrated surpassing the fundraising target of the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead $1.3 billion campaign. These scholarship recipients are among the 3,092 Mizzou students who have received new scholarships thanks to the campaign’s donors.

As of March 5, the campaign has raised $1,342,122,373 through gifts of all sizes since the campaign began on July 1, 2011.

This is a photo of George Smith and his scholarship recipients.

George P. Smith and his wife, Marjorie Sable, are joined by Nobel scholarship recipients Kaylee Cook (far left), Elijah Rojas (middle left), Hannah Shupert (middle right) and Ally Sivapiromrat (far right).

“I am forever grateful for our supporters’ philanthropy and trust.” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Whether these gifts came from CEOs, entrepreneurs, young alumni, faculty and staff, or even a Nobel Prize winner, every single one is an affirmation for Mizzou to continue to be bold as we tackle the grand challenges facing society.”

Many significant gifts contributed to Our Time to Lead’s success, including the gift from George P. Smith, the first Nobel Prize winner at Mizzou, and his spouse Marjorie Sable, professor emerita and director emerita of the MU School of Social Work. Smith, a Curators Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In March 2019, Smith and Sable announced that they would donate the prize money to support students in the College of Arts and Science by founding the Missouri Nobel Scholarship Fund.

“Their gift speaks to the commitment of the Mizzou community,” said Pat Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science. “Donating the Nobel Prize money shows a deep commitment to student success, one that will have ripple effects for years to come.”

"This scholarship is a generous gift that will allow me to take advantage of unique opportunities available at Mizzou that otherwise would not have been financially attainable, such as the chance to study abroad and become acquainted with cultures around the world," said Hannah Shupert, one of the scholarship’s inaugural recipients. Shupert is currently pursuing an accelerated 5-year program to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public affairs. She is from Springfield, Missouri.

“I am extremely honored to be one of the first recipients of the Missouri Nobel Scholarship! I would like to extend my thanks to George Smith and Marjorie Sable for giving me the opportunity to represent them,” said Rhett Wakefield, who is pursuing a degree in biological sciences. He is from Mountain Grove, Missouri. “I am grateful to receive this award, and I will use it to fulfill my lifelong dream of entering the medical field.”

In addition to 643 new student scholarships, fellowships and student support programs, a few other notable impacts of the Our Time to Lead campaign on Missouri’s land-grant, flagship university to date include:

• 30 endowed positions created for named faculty chairs, professorships, fellows and scholars.
• 101% increase in the endowment reaching $1,177,573,000 in January 2020
• 306 additional funds created.
• 4 signature centers and institutes with $10+ million endowments: The Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy and the Novak Leadership Institute were formed during the campaign. Additionally, the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute were elevated to signature status during the campaign. (Centers and institutes must have at least $10 million endowments to reach signature status.)

Included in the final stretch of the campaign are fundraising efforts to support the NextGen Precision Health Initiative and institute, the capital priority for MU and the University of Missouri Board of Curators. To date, Mizzou has raised $20.5 million in philanthropic support for the initiative and building, which will house researchers and industry partners collaborating on precision health solutions for Missouri.

“Reaching this goal helps elevate Mizzou’s status in the Association of American Universities and increase the university’s capacity for education, research, student success and faculty recruitment. We have our incredible donors and supporters to thank for that,” said Tom Hiles, vice chancellor for advancement. “While we are thrilled we met the goal ahead of time, we will continue to work with our dedicated alumni and supporters who are looking for inspired ways to support Mizzou’s mission. There is still so much work to do.”

The Mizzou: Our Time to Lead $1.3 billion campaign will be celebrated formally this fall. Total funds raised include categories recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education such as gifts, pledge payments, value of certain bequests, insurance, charitable remainder trusts, revocable trusts, private grants, and gifts-in-kind since July 1, 2011. It also includes sponsored research for private foundations, associations and industry partners for the same period.

The campaign aims to secure MU’s status among the nation’s elite public universities by focusing on four priorities:

• Grow the endowment to strengthen MU’s ability to attract and retain stellar students and faculty.
• Enhance MU’s AAU status through the creation of signature centers and institutes.
• Propel Mizzou to global leadership in education and research by spurring a campus renaissance with new and renovated facilities.
• Develop student success initiatives that give Mizzou students access to world-class learning opportunities that ensure they thrive on campus and throughout their lives.

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