Local philanthropist donates $100,000 to Columbia College

Friday, April 29, 2011 | 5:37 p.m. CDT; updated 6:03 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 29, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia College received a gift of $100,000 for its Science Initiative.

Columbia College President Dr. Gerald Brouder announced on Friday the donation, which was made by Judy Cunningham.

"I want to thank Judy for her generosity," Brouder said. "The Science Initiative will be successful due to the generous contributions of many individuals who understand the value of strengthening the sciences at Columbia College."

Cunningham graduated from Columbia College, formerly Christian Female College, in 1964, and is currently a Columbia College Board of Trustee member. Her philanthropic contributions have included giving awards to the First Christian Church of Columbia and "Christian College" Scholarship and providing no-cost living arrangements to more than 10 graduate and undergraduate students. 

Since retiring as the coordinator of special education projects for MU and the state of Missouri, Cunningham dedicates a large amount of time helping to resettle refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia and Liberia in the U.S. 

"My parents taught me at an early age about philanthropy," Cunningham said. "It's important for me to continue in their honor." 

The Science Initiative will provided students and faculty with state-of-the-art facilities, laboratories, and technology and science equipment. A major focus of the initiative is the construction of a $13 million to $15 million science building, according to a news release. Almost $3.5 million has been raised so far. 

Holly Cass, 22, is a junior at Columbia College studying forensic science and biology. Although she will have graduated by the time the science building is constructed, she attended the announcement and said she thinks the improvements to the campus will be extremely valuable to students and faculty. 

"It will be a great contribution for learning the physical aspects of chemistry and physics," Cass said. "They will have the tools and an environment that will help students prepare for the real world and for a job."

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