S&T alum gives single largest donation in history of Missouri higher education

In the largest single gift in the history of Missouri higher education, St. Louis businessman Fred Kummer and his wife June have donated $300 million to a foundation that will support Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. 

Fred Kummer, 91, graduated from Missouri S&T in 1955 with a degree in civil engineering. He went on to be the founder and chairman of St. Louis-based HBE Corp., which he established in 1960 and built into the world’s leading design-build firm for health care, a Monday news release said. 

He and his wife have been major donors to Missouri S&T for decades, the university said. 

“I owe much of my success to the education I received at Rolla,” Fred Kummer said. “My Rolla experience taught me how to think, how to work hard and how to manage my own career. June and I believe in the mission of this great university, and that’s why we have chosen to invest in S&T’s future success. We believe that Missouri S&T’s best days are ahead.”

Kummer’s gift will be used to help the university establish a new school of innovation and entrepreneurship in addition to developing new areas for research, provide numerous scholarships and fellowships for students, and bolster the Rolla region’s economy. 

“With this gift, we expect to be able to dramatically increase the size of our student body, recruit outstanding new faculty, establish powerful new centers of research, and engage with the community in new and exciting ways,” said Missouri S&T chancellor Dr. Mo Dehghani. 

Dehghani described the gift as “transformative” for S&T, the Rolla region and for the state.

The donation will be channeled into the new nonprofit “Kummer Institute Foundation.” Funds from the foundation will support several new initiatives at Missouri S&T, including:

  1. A new, independent, university-affiliated research and development entity. Four new research centers. 
  2. The Kummer School of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
  3. Numerous other new programs and enhancements, including scholarships and fellowships for high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students; expansion of Missouri S&T’s online degree programs; new research faculty positions; expansion and renovation of existing structures; construction of new buildings and labs; and greater community outreach through new initiatives in student-community engagement, a lecture series, and a shuttle service between S&T and St. Louis to bring students from the metropolitan area to Rolla for camps, campus visits and other activities.

In addition to this, the university said the Kummer Institute Foundation is expected to generate $250 million in gross domestic product to the Missouri economy during its first five years of operation and more than $2 billion over 25 years, according to an economic impact analysis conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

A news release said this impact does not include the potential of spin-off corporations and subsequent job creation that the initial $300 million gift is expected to produce, or the research and development activities to be conducted by the institute’s four research centers.

“As word spreads about this gift and the creation of the Kummer Institute, we fully expect to see additional investment from other donors, corporate partners, research agencies, and the state and federal government,” Dehghani said. The south-central region of Missouri, which includes S&T’s hometown of Rolla, is the most economically disadvantaged of any region of the state, he noted.

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