Read by Chancellor Mo Dehghani October 10, 2022, during the second annual Kummer Day event on the Missouri S&T campus.
Dear Fred and June,
I read this letter today as part of a tradition we began last year, at the very first Kummer Day. Every year, as we commemorate the anniversary of your gift, I present a report to our campus community on the impact of your gift on our university.
Under the direction of the Kummer Institute Foundation Board of Directors and the leadership of Dr. Steve Roberts, we are making great progress on your threefold mandate to elevate S&T, have broad STEM outreach and have economic impact.
Here are some of the highlights of the progress we have made in each of these three areas over the past 12 months.
First, we are working to elevate S&T through academic and research excellence.
We launched our new college, the Kummer College of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development, on July 1.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Dr. Susan Murray — a longtime S&T faculty member and former chair of psychological science — who is leading the college as acting vice provost and dean while a national search is underway for this college’s dean.
Named in your honor, the Kummer College is a new kind of college for the mid-21st century, designed to prepare future tech-savvy entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors and business leaders. The college has three founding departments: economics; business information and technology; and engineering management and systems engineering. On this foundation, we intend to build new programs and new approaches to learning that will enable our students to face the challenges of tomorrow.
In addition to the college, in March we awarded the first six Kummer Institute Ignition Grants for Sustainable Educational Transformation, totaling $275,000. Our faculty will use this funding to transform the academic landscape at S&T in important fields such as automation engineering, entrepreneurship and integrated business solutions.
As I reported last year, we are establishing four centers of excellence to accelerate Missouri S&T’s research activities. We have recruited leaders for two of the four centers.
Dr. Richard Billo joined S&T from Notre Dame in January as director of the Kummer Institute Center for Advanced Manufacturing. He is already working to secure millions in funding from federal agencies to further our efforts to solidify S&T’s position as a national leader in advanced manufacturing.
In December, Dr. Donald Wunsch will start his duties as director of the Kummer Institute Center for Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems. He is currently finishing up his appointment with the National Science Foundation as a program director.
We continue our searches for leaders of our other two centers of excellence: the Kummer Institute Center for Advanced and Resilient Infrastructure and the Center for Resource Sustainability.
Our mission to elevate S&T is also benefiting from Kummer scholarship and fellowship programs, which are now in their second year. We now have over 800 Kummer Vanguard Scholars.
The program attracts and supports the best and brightest first-year students in STEM degree programs and is renewable for four years.
A fellowship program for Ph.D. students, called the Kummer Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Doctoral Fellowship, has brought in 19 Ph.D. students this year. Combined with last year’s cohort of 11 I&E Fellows, we have awarded a total of 30 of these prestigious fellowships. Our goal is to grow that number each year so that we have up to 100 Kummer I&E Fellows on campus at any given time.
We are also making great strides in the second part of the Kummer mandate: to establish broad STEM outreach.
A little over a year ago, Courtney Jones joined S&T as the founding director of the Kummer Center for STEM Education. In that short time, Courtney and her team have extended STEM education far beyond the walls of this great university.
Courtney oversees the center’s engaging programming for students in grades K through 12 and for teacher development. The team hosts after-school programs, free tutoring, community outreach events, teacher conferences and workshops, and research experiences for both teachers and students.
The center’s biggest yearly undertaking is our summer camps, where students experience the STEM fields in fun and meaningful ways.
Last summer we hosted 13 unique summer camps for over 700 students — and that is because we were limited on space!
Thanks to your generosity, we provided $36,000 in scholarships so that over 60 children from families with severe financial need were able to experience these invigorating camps.
We know that many of our alumni and current students first set foot on campus as summer campers and then returned for their college degrees.
Last but certainly not least, our third goal is to ensure economic impact in our region and state. There is no doubt that your transformative gift is doing that.
Take, for example, the Kummer Ignition Grants for Research and Innovation initiative. It has provided $500,000 in seed funding for 17 projects to support faculty teams to help them secure major grants from federal agencies or private foundations.
We are also making progress on developing a manufacturing technology and innovation campus across Interstate 44, north of the main S&T campus. The first building — called the Missouri Protoplex — will serve as the research and development hub for manufacturers across the state. The Kummer Institute Foundation board of directors provided $50 million in matching funds.
This significant commitment by the board of directors led to over $46 million in state support, and we anticipate significant additional funding from federal sources.
Your gift has also been instrumental in our progress on the Arrival District and provides ongoing investment in capital projects, including nearly $13 million for the Welcome Center and more than $18 million in the Innovation Lab, for which we broke ground in April.
Fred, you encouraged us all to think big, and you and June backed it up with the largest charitable gift in Missouri history, and the fifth-largest gift to any public university in the nation. You have significantly raised our sights and our supporters’ confidence in our future.
You have demonstrated that philanthropy is not a destination but a journey along which every donor takes notice and remembers the kind acts of others and acknowledges their appreciation.
It is with honor, Fred and June, that we all thank you for your wisdom and for your generosity that will enrich the lives of our students, staff and faculty for generations to come.
The Kummer Institute that your generosity created has an unlimited potential to impact lives for the better through STEM outreach and education. And that inspiration will also remain the responsibility of all who serve here.
Finally, Fred and June, on behalf of the Kummer Institute Foundation board, Kummer Institute staff, Kummer Vanguard Scholars, the I&E Doctoral Fellows, and endowed chairs and professors, I say that we are proud to continue the great work of the institute in your name. What you have done has been noticed and has drawn applause from every member of our community and far beyond.
We therefore continue to remain grateful Fred that you and June decided, based on your own personal experience, that this institution’s mission is worthy of your support.
You have made a tremendous difference and we look forward to fulfilling your wishes in perpetuity in accordance to your mandate of elevate Missouri S&T, have broad STEM outreach and economic development.
Missouri S&T Chancellor