$1.1 million gift to create MU biochemistry endowed faculty chair

Friday, April 4, 2014 | 7:17 p.m. CDT; updated 3:19 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 5, 2014

COLUMBIA — MU announced that it has received a $1.1 million gift to its Biochemistry Department, which will be used to create an endowed chair.

The Lowell D. Miller Endowed Chair in Biochemistry, funded by the gift from Lowell Miller, is designed to attract and keep faculty members. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said the endowment means a permanent funding source for the university.

"This is a gift from Dr. Miller, which will be giving long past his life and past my life as well," Loftin said. "That’s a very important thing to understand. The endowment part of it is very critical for us all. It gives us a predictable source of income for us to use over time for these faculty members who receive that particular designation."

Miller said his decision to give the money partly stemmed from his thinking that education in America is being somewhat slighted.

"I don’t think we’re giving enough attention to it," he said. "Anything we can do to bring in more faculty and more professors into the university environment can’t be anything but good."

He also said the gift was a way to pay tribute to the core of advisers he had while attending graduate school at MU.

"They were outstanding individuals," Miller said. "They were interested not only in educating you in your scientific field, but also in educating you in general how to prepare for the future. So I feel that’s one of the debts I have in life that I won’t be able to pay off, but I’ll try to at least make dents in it."

Thomas Payne, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, said he believes the outstanding faculty Miller would like to see bring creativity and innovation to the university.

"We need a lot of contributions to run this institution because as most people know, the state and federal funds supporting higher education isn’t what it used to be," Payne said. "It’s very critical we get donations from people and partnerships that allow us to do the education that we do."

Miller has given to MU on several occasions, and he said Friday that the support he gives to the university is in honor of his late wife, Marian.

"She graduated a year before I got my doctorate, so we had probably enough money to fill maybe a top pocket in your shirt," Miller said. "She worked for a year as a food supervisor, and that got us through along with the GI Bill. Without her doing that, I’m not sure how I would have scraped by and made it.

"The debt to her will be unpaid also. There’s no way to fulfill that one."

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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