Tom Bass has fond memories of visiting Columbia College as a child.
“I remember growing up and my parents took me over there to a Columbia College play about Peter Pan. I was 8 or 10,” he said. “That is my earliest memory of Columbia College.”
Bass, a local real estate investor, comes from a long line of Bass family involvement at the school, dating back to 1857, when his great-great-grandfather served on the board of trustees six years after the college was founded. Bass said that when he learned the college was looking for a way to fund the renovation and maintenance of Missouri Hall in January, he was happy to be in the financial state to donate.
“I’d been looking for something to do for my father since he died in 1999,” Tom Bass said. “I thought it was a fitting tribute.”
Bass’ $100,000 gift to Columbia College will establish an endowment for Missouri Hall maintenance and create the Andrew J. Bass Jr. Admissions Center to be housed in the renovated building.
“He did a lot for me, I just thought it was fair that I do a little something for him,” Tom Bass said of his late father, Andrew J. Bass Jr., who served on the college’s board of trustees from 1966 to 1996.
Columbia College President Gerald T. Brouder said the building is now being renovated into a student services center and will include the Andrew J. Bass Jr. Admissions Center as one of the prominent offices in the building. Renovations are expected to be completed in the middle of December.
“Our idea there was to restore the building to its earlier grandeur but changing the function as a dormitory building to a one-stop student services center.”
The center will include an office for registration, student accounts, transcripts and a tutorial center for math and writing. Financial operations, pay roll and an institution research office will also be housed in the building.
“The lives of a number of women affiliated with the Bass family were changed substantially by attending the Christian Female College and the number of men in the Bass family who served the institution is also quite large,” Brouder said.
In 1988, the college awarded Andrew J. Bass Jr. an honorary doctorate of humanities. He also donated his house to the college in 1977, which Brouder said was used as the college’s president’s home until 1995, when it was sold and the proceeds of the sale were placed in the college endowment.
The Bass family’s relationship with the school spans five generations back to the mid-19th century.
Columbia College was founded in 1851 as Christian Female College, and from 1857 to 1899, Andrew J. Bass Jr.’s great-grandfather, John Machir, sat on the board of trustees. Tom Bass’ grandmother, Mary Machir Dorsey Bass, had Bass Commons named after her in 1978. She was 95 and the oldest living graduate of Christian Female College, which was renamed Columbia College in the 1970s when the school became coeducational.
“The name ‘Bass’ will be revered so much more in what will be the Andrew J. Bass Jr. Admissions Center,” Brouder said. “It’s a very prominent name in the history of Columbia College, and this recent donation gives an assurance that name will be revered well off into the future as well.”