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March 10, 2011 Volume 32, No. 23

Even in retirement, Bond’s support of UM is a gift that keeps on giving

Bond event

AMONG FRIENDS Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, center, shares a moment with Tom Atkins, left, and John Danforth before the March 7 announcement of an endowed lecture series in Bond's name. The series will provide a forum for national and international experts to discuss economics, politics, science and national security. Danforth, a former U.S. Senator, and Atkins, a former UM curator, raised $1.3 million to fund the series. Bond retired from the Senate in 2010. Rob Hill photo


$1.3 million endowment will fund new lecture series

When John Danforth heard that, after more than 40 years in politics, Christopher “Kit” Bond was planning to retire in 2010, he couldn’t imagine not doing something special for his friend and former colleague.

Bond, who served four terms in the U.S. Senate and two terms as Missouri governor, had a more modest celebration in mind.

“He said, ‘Maybe a nice dinner, some friends and we’ll tell some stories,’” recalled Danforth, himself a former U.S. Senator. “But no way, after all this time in public service, would Kit Bond steal silently into the night.”

So Danforth, with help from Warren Erdman, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, and former Curator Tom Atkins, set out to establish a lasting tribute to Bond. Their efforts culminated this week, when MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton announced the creation of the Christopher S. “Kit” Bond Distinguished Lecture Series. The series, which will provide a forum for national and international experts to discuss economics, politics, science and national security at venues across the state, will be funded with a $1.3 million endowment to MU.

“It turned out to be the easiest thing to raise money for Kit Bond,” Danforth said Monday at a ceremony in the Reynolds Alumni Center, “because people all over the state recognized what a gift he has been to our state for so many years and they wanted to recognize it.”

Speakers for the series will be chosen by a selection committee comprised of Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor of student affairs; Thomas Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; James Thompson, dean of the College of Engineering; and Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science.

Deaton said the lecture series is one way to thank Bond for his support of the university over the years. He credited Bond with securing more than $500 million in funding for research and capital projects and for promoting the life sciences. Deaton also noted that Mizzou Advantage, an initiative that capitalizes on MU’s competitive assets, has roots in Food for the 21st Century, a program Bond created in the 1980s when he was governor to help Missouri food producers.

 “The senator’s efforts to promote and recognize the state’s flagship university are really far from over and in many ways are just beginning,” Deaton said.

When Danforth approached him about honoring his retirement, Bond said, “it took me a nanosecond” to suggest something that would benefit the University of Missouri.

“It has been clear to me from the beginning,” he said, “that having a fully resourced state university that can be recognized as a class university is absolutely essential to the well-being of our citizens, to the growth of our economy and to our progress.”