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Barker Gives $1 Million To Drury For Animal Rights Professorship

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Former “The Price Is Right” host and Drury University graduate, Bob Barker, gave $1 million to his alma mater Tuesday to establish a professorship in Animal Rights at Drury University. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.

In 2008, Barker gave Drury a separate $1 million to establish a forum on animal rights that led to this semester’s Animal Ethics course. Now, the endowed professorship of animal rights means one professor will devote her time exclusively to this topic.

Welcoming Barker at Tuesday’s press conference was Drury University’s president, Todd Parnell.

Parnell and Barker then unveiled the ceremonial check, which Barker signed.

The students who take the animal rights course will learn about the history of animal rights, determine what constitutes animal cruelty, and study what world religions teach about the treatment of animals. The former game show host said he expects the nation to soon be talking about this project.

“Educators have told me that this class will be discussed and applauded on campuses all over the country,” Barker said. He added that educators expect this class to also be duplicated at other universities.

The event wasn’t without its drama: Parnell returned to the podium to make an announcement, but paused as if to take a phone call.

He asked Barker if he knew a young, recently graduated Drury basketball star. “He says he has something very important to give you,” Parnell told Barker.

“Really?” asked Barker, looking around.

In "The Price is Right" fashion, Parnell boomed Barker's famous phrase, "Come on down!"

In ran the basketball star, holding a moth-eaten gray and red basketball jersey that had belonged to Barker when he played at Drury in the 1940s.

Barker attended Drury on a basketball scholarship and graduated in 1947.

The former game show host has been an animal rights activist for the past 35 years, he said. He has donated money for animal rights studies at the law schools of several major universities, including Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA. This week’s endowment to Drury University, he says, is the first of its kind in the nation for an undergraduate school.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.