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$2.65 Million Gift to Support Beef Genomics, Nutrition Research at MU

Research into beef genomics and nutrition will result in economic improvements for beef producers

March 11th, 2016

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Barry and Marge Slayton, residents of West Plains, Mo., have given the University of Missouri an estate gift of $2.65 million dollars to support research into beef genomics and nutrition in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR). This gift will support future research into improving the nutritional health of cattle and the reproduction practices of beef farmers, which will result in economic improvements for beef farmers around the state and country.

“This generous gift will advance the University’s missions of research and extension around the state,” MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said. “MU plays a vital economic development role for Missouri. We are thankful for the Slaytons’ passion and vision to expand MU’s role in supporting an important part of our state’s agricultural economy.”

The Slaytons are graduates of the University of Missouri. Barry earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from CAFNR and Marge earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics from what is now the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences as well as a master’s degree in extension education. The Slaytons have raised cattle for more than 40 years and are supporters of MU Extension efforts in southern Missouri. They say they are eager to give back to the university that has given them so much while at the same time advancing the industry they have come to know and love.

“We have been blessed throughout our lives as a result of our education and hard work, both of which can be attributed to the time we spent at the University,” said Barry Slayton. “MU is a leader of beef genomics and nutrition research, so we felt that this was the best way for us to move the beef industry forward as well as give back to the institution which gave us so much.”

“Our beef genomics and nutrition faculty are international leaders in their fields and I know that with this support from the Slaytons, our faculty will be able to make amazing discoveries and advancements,” said Tom Payne, dean of CAFNR. “These advancements will result in real-world answers for improving beef production, which will mean real-world economic improvements and more food production for hungry populations in our state, nation and world. On behalf of the entire CAFNR family, I cannot thank the Slaytons enough for their generosity.”

“This generous gift will enhance our mission to advance animal agriculture by educating students to become industry leaders and by conducting research that generates new discoveries and novel applications,” said Tom McFadden, director of the CAFNR Division of Animal Sciences. “With its focus on beef production, this gift is an ideal fit with our priorities and is consistent with Missouri’s ranking as one of the leading beef cow states in the U.S.”

McFadden said the Slaytons have identified an outstanding opportunity to strengthen MU programs in two key disciplines: genetics and nutrition. He says these two disciplines have converged to address a key challenge in beef production – improving feed efficiency.

“By adding to our established excellence in beef cow reproduction, this gift will foster comprehensive excellence in our beef programs to the benefit of our students, Missouri beef producers, and the beef industry,” McFadden said.

With an overall fundraising goal of $1.3 billion, the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign will secure the University of Missouri’s status among the nation’s elite public universities by focusing on three priorities: endowment — building our endowment to compete with other institutions will strengthen our ability to attract and retain stellar students and faculty; signature centers and institutes — interdisciplinary centers and institutes will be the engine of research growth that will enhance our AAU status and add to our distinctiveness; and a campus renaissance — new and renovated facilities will propel Mizzou to global leadership in education and research and will help attract and retain students and faculty.

Editor’s Note: For more on the story, please see “An Extension of Themselves.”