$10 Million Gift to Kinder Institute Will Support Study of Constitutional Democracy at Mizzou

Gift will support two new degrees offered through A&S
Rich Kinder on a dais with Nancy Kinder Riley Messer Alexander N. Cartwright and Justin Dyer

MU senior and Buckner, Missouri, native Riley Messer, second from left, shared her story about how the Kinder Institute enhanced her undergraduate experience with Nancy and Rich Kinder and Chancellor Alexander Cartwright during the press conference announcing the $10 million gift from the Kinder Foundation.

Sheena Rice
News Source: 
MU News Bureau

The University of Missouri has received a $10 million gift from the Kinder Foundation to support new degree opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy and the College of Arts and Science. The gift will support two new degrees at MU: a bachelor of arts in constitutional democracy and a master of arts in Atlantic history and politics.

The Kinder Foundation, a family foundation established in 1997 by Rich and Nancy Kinder of Houston, Texas, provides transformational gifts that impact urban green space, education, and quality of life. In 2015, a $25 million gift from the Foundation established the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. Rich Kinder, a native of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from MU in 1966 and 1968, respectively.

“The degree offerings supported by this transformative gift allow students interested in the grand challenges of constitutional democracy throughout the United States and around the world to expand their learning opportunities far beyond the classroom,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “I am grateful to Rich and Nancy for their longstanding support of academic excellence. Their support in creating and supporting the Kinder Institute has undoubtedly established the University of Missouri as a global leader in the study of constitutional democracy.”

The Kinder Institute is directed by Justin Dyer, professor of political science, and is supported by dedicated faculty members, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and other MU faculty and staff. The gift will support expanding faculty and staff for the new degrees.

photo of Nancy and Rich Kinder Riley Messer and Alexander Cartwright after the announcement

The degree programs were established by MU faculty and approved by the Board of Curators in June. The degrees will sustain and expand the Kinder Institute’s partnership with the University of Oxford through study abroad and research opportunities. The bachelor’s degree will focus on the history, theory and practice of constitutional democracy. The master’s degree, set to launch in summer 2020, approaches U.S. history in relation to the wider Atlantic world of which it was part, including Europe, Latin America and Africa.

“The new degrees have the potential to attract the nation’s brightest students to the Kinder Institute and the University of Missouri,” Rich Kinder said. “Nancy and I believe that a comprehensive understanding of government and democracy is critical. Over the years we have watched the Kinder Institute become a world-class center thanks to Justin Dyer and the staff of the Institute. We are excited to provide additional support to help elevate it to greater reach and impact.”

The gift also will support the Kinder Institute Residential College, designated for students pursuing the new bachelor’s degree, as well as study abroad opportunities with University of Oxford’s Corpus Christi College.

“We here in Oxford are proud to have the Kinder Institute and the University of Missouri as partners in the pursuit of intellectual excellence,” said Helen Moore, president of Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford. “We are thrilled at Corpus not only to host Mizzou students who wish to have a better understanding of history and democracy and how these concepts impact communities around the world, but also to have Corpus students and faculty coming to Missouri to study in the heart of America.” 

The $25 million gift from the Kinder Foundation was one of the first gifts from the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign. The comprehensive $1.3 billion campaign is nearing completion.

The Kinder Institute supports the research and scholarship of MU faculty, undergraduate and graduate students who seek to explore questions related to the history, theory and practice of constitutional democracy as it was crafted by the American founders and developed in subsequent generations.

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