COLUMBIA — Six years ago, David and Gloria Lowell of St. Louis brought their golden retriever Goldi to MU so she could be treated for cancer with radiation. That began the Lowells' friendship with the College of Veterinary Medicine.
That tie will have a lasting effect on future veterinary medicine students. Chancellor Brady Deaton announced Wednesday that the Lowells have pledged $1 million of their estate for scholarships in memory of Goldi and her golden retriever buddy, Honee, who was brought along to Columbia when Goldi was treated.
A scholarship in memory of Goldi will go to veterinary students studying oncology, and one in memory of Honee will be awarded to students interested in the bond between humans and animals.
Preference in each scholarship category will be given to students from rural communities and to those who have financial need. It has not yet been determined how many students will receive the scholarships.
Gloria Lowell emphasized that in addition to memorializing their dogs and helping students, she and her husband are making the donation to honor the people who took care of Goldi.
"I can't say enough about them," she said. "They showed genuine care for animals and people."
The couple joined Deaton, Neil Olson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Kevin Finn, a student, in a brief ceremony at Reynolds Alumni Center late Wednesday morning.
"We have love for all animals, especially golden retrievers," David Lowell told the gathering. "Mizzou's been great to us, and we are glad to help."
The couple has no other ties to MU and no children. "They're like my babies," Gloria Lowell said of her dogs.
Deaton said in a statement that MU's College of Veterinary Medicine is the only veterinary college in the state and one of 28 nationally. He cited a critical shortage of veterinarians in specialized areas, including rural medicine.
During the ceremony, Olson said there is a 40 percent increase in the number of incoming freshmen who intend to study veterinary medicine, up 30 students from last year for a total of 110. "The most important mission is to train the next generation of veterinarians," Olson said.
Goldi was 10 and Honee was 5 when they died eight months apart in 2006. The Lowells now have two rescue goldens, Lola and Tori. Lola has something in common with the pair who came before her: She has been trained to ring a bell when she wants to use the outdoor facilities.
But Gloria Lowell said Tori, who spent her first 2 1/2 years locked in a laundry room before she was rescued, hasn't learned the trick yet. "Tori didn't know she was a golden retriever when we got her," she said. "She didn't know how to swim and was very introverted, which is uncommon for golden retrievers."