The Master Builder

Friday, October 13, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

In addition to heartbreaking news depicting all the human tragedy that unfolded in the Middle East this week, national media celebrated the life and legacy of one of the most remarkable philanthropists of our era. Billionaire Charles Feeney passed away in a two-bedroom rented apartment after anonymously giving away his entire wealth to charity and educational organizations, including a billion-dollar donation to his alma mater, Cornell University. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates considered Mr. Feeney their hero and, in the words of Mr. Buffett, “he should be everybody’s hero.

This week, we also celebrated the life and legacy of our own hero when we commemorated the third anniversary of Kummer Day to honor the achievements of the Master Builder: The Fred S. Kummer Story. Fred founded Hospital Building and Equipment Co. (HBE) in 1960 from the basement of his home in Crestwood, Missouri, and built 1,012 hospitals in 49 states. “Hospitals are not meant to be architectural monuments,” he said. “They are meant to be cost-effective, to meet the needs of patients and staffs, not to please the aesthetic sensibilities of passersby. HBE succeeded by always keeping these goals in mind, by never losing track of them, never allowing personal ego to interfere with the client’s best interests.”

To build architecturally pleasing buildings, he expanded into the hospitality business, launching Adam’s Mark Hotels & Resorts, a chain of upscale hotels that grew to 25 properties in 13 states.

Three years ago, on October 9, the late Fred, a 1955 S&T graduate, and his wife, June, an architect, made a transformational donation to S&T that remains the largest single gift ever to any Missouri university, public or private, and the eighth-largest gift to any public institution in the nation. Fred and June’s threefold mandate is: elevate Missouri S&T, create broad STEM outreach, and have economic impact. In just three years, we have seen a tremendous return on their generous investment with tangible impact that includes:

  • Establishing the Kummer Institute for Student Success, Research and Economic Development, now in its third year.
  • Launching the Kummer College of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development, now in its second year.
  • Awarding seed funding for research innovation and teaching transformation.
  • Recruiting three research directors to lead the newly established Kummer Centers of Excellence.
  • 1,100 Kummer Vanguard Scholars enrolled and supported in STEM fields with a 93% year-over-year retention and first-year grade point average of 3.5.
  • 45 Kummer Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Doctoral Fellowships granted.
  • 15 outstanding endowed chairs and professors hired in multiple departments.
  • Establishing the Kummer Center for STEM Education to provide broad STEM outreach for K-12 teachers and pre-college students through after-school programs, field trips and visits to campus, free tutoring, community events, teacher workshops, research experiences, and summer camps.
  • Establishing the Manufacture Missouri Ecosystem (MME) to support small- to medium-size manufacturing companies with the Missouri Protoplex, a 116,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, under construction as MME’s home. The Protoplex will serve as the research and development hub for manufacturers across the state.
  • Launching our Advancing STEM in Missouri initiative that includes renovating and expanding the Engineering Research Laboratory, renovating  chemistry and biological sciences facilities, and expanding our geothermal field to support main campus buildings.

The Kummer Day event also marked the launch of the S&T Startup Challenge, a great opportunity for students to learn more about what it takes to create a business and perfect it into a compelling five-minute pitch. The event also kicked off the Kummer Match campaign, for which  donations to support students with financial need will be matched by the Kummer Institute Foundation.

The spirit of philanthropy, as demonstrated by Charles Feeney and Fred and June Kummer, is not solely about “paying back” – it’s about propelling others forward and ensuring the success of the less fortunate among us. It’s about ensuring hope so that the less fortunate never “walk (alone) through the storm.” Fred and June, thank you for believing in our mission and for ensuring that we won’t walk alone.



Share your thoughts!

Check out the latest news from S&T:

Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910