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MSU-West Plains Receives $4 Million Estate Gift for Scholarships

Lorene Thompson Brooks, who passed away in 2012, left her entire estate to go toward scholarships at MSU-West Plains. (Photo

The legacy of one woman will mean a college education for many students in one of the region’s most impoverished areas. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore has details on the  largest scholarship gift in the Missouri State University Foundation’s history.

Lorene Thompson Brooks gave MSU-West Plains a heads up in 2009 that she had included the campus in her will.  It wasn’t until recently, however, that the campus found out just how much.

Four million dollars will go toward an endowment for need-based scholarships at the West Plains campus. It will also fully cover the cost of two athletics scholarships.

Brooks was born in 1930 and graduated from Koshkonong High School in 1948, just a few miles southeast of West Plains. She moved to Texas, where she eventually passed away in 2010.  Her brother and his wife live in West Plains.

Dr. Drew Bennett is the chancellor of MSU-West Plains.

“Almost 90 percent of our students require some financial assistance to go to college. And her gift will go toward need-based scholarships to areas that we have identified are our Corps of Opportunities program. And our Corps of Opportunities program combines scholarship with on-campus work, and opportunities for qualified students who need financial help to pay for their college education,” Bennett said.

He said it’s difficult to estimate how many lives a 4 million dollar gift like this will impact.

“Because it is an endowment, which will provide funds every year in perpetuity, it has the potential to impact hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of lives,” Bennett said.

Brooks’ only child died of cancer in the late ‘90s.  At that time, a relative suggested the daughter’s collection of books be given to the Garnett Library at MSU-West Plains.  According to the University, this act began a long-lasting relationship between Brooks and the West Plains campus, resulting in this major estate gift.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.