Wednesday was a good day for tigers, thanks to a $2 million gift from an MU alumnus with a passion for wildlife and basketball.
Bruce Loewenberg, who graduated in 1961 with a degree in forestry, has pledged $1 million for the Mizzou Tigers for Tigers program in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and another $1 million for MU’s men’s basketball program.
The money endowed, which counts as part of MU’s “For All We Call Mizzou” fundraising drive, will be donated to the university after Loewenberg’s death. Loewenberg served in 1958 as a student manager for the Missouri football team under coach Dan Devine.
“I’m a senile sophomore. I’ve been involved with athletics here at Mizzou since my undergrad days, and I just have a deep and abiding love for Tiger athletics,” Loewenberg said. “I was just amazed that there were no endowed basketball scholarships. I want to step up and provide some basketball scholarships and hopefully stimulate other people.”
Vincent Volpe, MU’s director of athletics development, estimated that MU basketball has about $6.5 million reserved for scholarships. Each four-year scholarship is worth $250,000. So, if Loewenberg were to die with tuition rates the same as they are now, Loewenberg would put four Tigers through school.
“It is doubtful that this endowment will actually fully pay for four scholarships,” Volpe said. “Hopefully, when Mr. Loewenberg passes away, it will be well into the future when tuition rates are higher.”
Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden thanked Loewenberg personally for his donation.
“I think your gift is symbolic of a relationship that we really believe in at the university of Missouri,” Alden said. “That relationship is really the synergy with the most important thing we do at our institution and that is to educate people and to provide research and to provide people with opportunities way beyond the University of Missouri.”
Loewenberg said he has a deep love for tigers and hopes that the portion of his gift for the Tigers for Tigers program will help protect the world’s tiger population. Poaching, loss of natural habitat and loss of prey have been blamed for reducing the number of tigers worldwide to an estimated 3,000 to 5,000.
“Tigers are running out of time,” Loewenberg said. “We’re trying to figure out how we can raise money, and this is just one way that I thought we could bring attention to the plight of the tiger, and maybe stimulate some other folks to step up to the plate and help save this magnificent animal.”
Mark Ryan, director of the School of Natural Resources, said that Loewenberg’s contribution will give students an opportunity to study and work in countries such as Nepal and Indonesia.
Ryan said workshops are being developed for conservation professionals in tiger-ranged countries to learn about international conservation issues. He said he hopes to put the training “on the ground” in about two years to not only help tiger protection efforts, but MU students as well.
“This is something we’ve seen on the horizons as a possibility for us,” Ryan said. “Mr. Loewenberg’s gift makes that vision really something that can be a reality.”
The Mizzou Tigers for Tigers program was founded in 1999 to help bring awareness to the plight of the tiger.
“By doing this, I am paying a debt that I owe to the university,” Loewenberg said. “I really have a love for this university, I have a love for my fraternity and my friends.”