"It's a family thing," says Alberta Macke Dougan of her support and loyalty to Southeast Missouri State University. Alberta's mother graduated from what became University High, her brother attended Southeast and her sister graduated from the University. Her husband, Neil, attended Southeast until he was called to serve in the Vietnam War. When he returned from Vietnam he enrolled in several night courses, but his work frequently took him out of town, making it difficult to complete courses.
Alberta graduated from Southeast with a degree in education. "My experiences and opportunities at Southeast prepared me for the success in my chosen field of education," Alberta says, "but also offered the opportunity for growth through participation in campus activities."
The Start of a Fulfilling Career
Shortly after graduation, Alberta taught in the Jackson School District and then at Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo., before she returned to Southeast in 1971 when she and Neil were married. She became a faculty member at the University High School that same year. When the school was closed in 1986, she became a member of the department of history where she continued to work with students who were preparing to teach history/social studies at the middle and secondary levels and with the secondary teachers who supervised them.
In addition to teaching, Alberta also served as chair of the department of history, as interim chair of the department of middle and secondary education, and as chair of the faculty senate. She retired from Southeast in 2006.
Throughout her teaching career, Alberta collected priceless memories. "As a faculty member, having the opportunity to see the students mature into productive citizens and professionals made it all worthwhile," she says.
Sharing Their Passions
Because of their experiences at Southeast and the University's importance to their family, Neil and Alberta believe strongly in providing scholarship support so that students may have some of the same opportunities they did. "Because I'm interested in beautification and ecology, I wanted to support the horticulture program," Neil says. "I want students to move beyond malls and the Internet to improve their surroundings ecologically and visually. It seems to be a worthwhile use of the funds."
As for Alberta, offering a scholarship in history and social studies was her obvious choice. "I want the scholarship to support history graduate students (or exceptional undergraduate students) with resources to assist them in research that may include travel to get the whole experience," she says.
Neil and Alberta don't want their support to be limited to the here and now, they also want to impact future generations. In addition to the two endowed scholarships they have established that are helping students today, they established a charitable remainder trust with a real estate gift. This trust will pay an income to them for life and the remainder in the trust will add to these two endowments to provide even more support for future students.
They say providing support to Southeast through scholarships was an easy decision to make. "We could afford to help students," Neil says. "Plus, I'm married to a woman who made her career at Southeast, and it's a good thing to do."
Just as Alberta made a lasting impression on students though her teaching, Alberta and Neil want to provide others, through their charitable giving, an opportunity to obtain an education that will truly make a difference in their lives like it has for the two of them.
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