MU announces new endowment for veterans

Friday, November 12, 2010 | 6:20 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — At least 300 veterans are currently enrolled at MU. Now, the university is working to develop a new endowment to assist them.

Announced on Veterans Day at the grand opening of MU's Veterans Center, the Mizzou Military Veterans Endowment is in the early stages of fundraising and planning.

“It was just established a couple weeks ago,” Annette Sobel said. “The fund is specifically for programs for veterans.”

Sobel is the chairwoman of Chancellor Brady Deaton’s Task Force for a Veteran-Friendly Campus and a retired major general in the Arizona National Guard.

The endowment resulted from meetings of the task force, during which members decided to pursue the project. The group was formed by Deaton in August 2007 to look at how the campus can be more accommodating to veterans. It is comprised of 28 members including MU faculty, staff and students.

Boone County National Bank is the first and only donor at this time. It made a contribution of $5,000 to the endowment fund after the bank was contacted by Sobel, said Steve Erdel, president and CEO of the bank.

“We owe (veterans) a lot. It was the right thing to do for the right reason,” he said.

Sobel said she expects more fundraising will take place, possibly led by the Mizzou Student Veterans Association, which recently participated in the MU School of Social Work’s Helmet Heroes art auction to benefit a scholarship in the field of military social work.

Like the funding, the plan for the endowment is in the early stages. Sobel said it would provide further funding to programs assisting veterans through the new Veterans Center.

“Some veterans who have been through wartime experiences have specials needs,” Sobel said.

In addition to providing counseling for students and university-employed veterans, Sobel said, the center will help veterans use opportunities they receive through the GI Bill and other government programs.

“The first step is to make sure all the constituents are represented,” she said of future discussions, which will determine exactly what programs the endowment will benefit.

“What we need to do is a baseline assessment of what the education needs are and where the gaps exist," she said.

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