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MU Receives $2.55 Million Gift to Attract Top Economist

Donor Sam Cook Stresses Importance of Economics Education

Nov. 8, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan C. Daniels, (573) 882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Students at the University of Missouri-Columbia will have the opportunity to learn macroeconomics from one of the nation's top economists thanks to a gift of $2.55 million from a prominent Missouri banker. The gift from Sam Cook, chairman of Central Bancompany in Jefferson City, will fund a chair in the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Science and a library endowment to support the chair's research.

"This generous gift is an investment in the future of the study of macroeconomics, and ultimately, the vitality of this state and nation," said MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, who is an economist himself. "The graduates of the state’s flagship university must have a solid foundation in economic theory to chart Missouri’s course."Deaton says the gift will lead to a better understanding of macroeconomics, which addresses issues such as economic growth, business fluctuations, monetary and fiscal policy, taxation, and other government policies that affect economic performance in free market economies.

"Knowing the hurdles MU faces in becoming and staying competitive for top-notch economics faculty, Sam Cook once again chose to make an impact on the University," Deaton said. "By generously endowing the Sam B. Cook Chair in Economics and the supporting Sam B. Cook Economics Library Endowment, he will make it possible for MU to attract and support a highly distinguished scholar. The Sam B. Cook Chair will be an intellectual leader within the Department of Economics just as Mr. Cook himself has been a leader and a force for change within the state of Missouri."

Sam Cook attended MU before serving in World War II. After the war, in 1948, he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with special honors in economics. He remains passionate about economics, firmly believing that first, a solid understanding of the discipline leads to a well-rounded education for students, and second, the ability of students to thoroughly apply those theories ultimately benefits the state of Missouri.           

"A solid foundation in economic theory is critical to a well-rounded university education and absolutely essential for journalism graduates" said Cook, a longtime resident of Jefferson City. "This gift provides the resources for the University of Missouri to expand its ability to provide the highest quality economics education."            

In 2006, 42 students graduated from MU with an undergraduate or graduate degree in economics.             

"The Department of Economics is honored by the deep commitment to quality education and confidence in the Department expressed by Mr. Cook," said David Mandy, chair of the department.  "We share Mr. Cook's vision that a solid understanding of macroeconomics is an essential component in development of Missouri's future leaders and are eager to provide this with Mr. Cook's support."

Although his recent contribution is monetary, Cook has committed his time and energy to supporting students and higher education initiatives throughout the state. From 1987 to 1993, he was a University of Missouri System Curator. While serving on the Board of Curators, he articulated a clear conviction that the University must achieve higher levels of academic excellence. He also greatly expanded University-sponsored student financial aid, accelerated the replacement cycle of teaching and research equipment, improved libraries, made major investments in information technology, and provided leadership in the adoption of much stronger freshman admission standards.           

Cook is a former member of the Governor's Task Force on Higher Education and has served as a trustee at several universities in the state. While in the U.S. Army, he received the Meritorious Service Award. He attained the rank of captain in the Field Artillery and was Aide de Camp to the Commanding General of the XXXVI Corps Artillery in France, Belgium and Germany.            

The For All We Call Mizzou campaign has a goal of raising $1 billion, which MU plans to celebrate in the spring of 2009. Funds raised during the campaign enhance MU's ability to compete nationally and internationally for the best students and faculty and provide broad access for students of all economic backgrounds to Missouri's flagship University. To date, the campaign has raised $856.42 million, which is more than 85 percent of the $1 billion goal.