The Donors Behind a $10 Million Music Gift at University of Missouri

The University of Missouri recently received a $10 million gift from Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to help fund a proposed new School of Music building.

I've written before about the Sinquefields and their laser-focus on education in Missouri. A core part of the couple's education philanthropy is revealed through their support of the Show Me Institute, which has received just under $1 million annually in recent years. For years, the institute has been attempting to set Missouri education policy, producing materials claiming to show the benefits of ending teacher tenure and enacting vouchers in the form of "tuition tax credits."

In the realm of higher education, the couple's philanthropy doesn't really have an ideological agenda. Instead, the Sinquefields have been focused on the University of Missouri. While the Sinquefields didn't attend the school, when the couple retired from business in 2005, they returned to Missouri and their Sinquefield Charitable Foundation has given away millions across the state.

The couple has given more than $13 million to the university over the years. In 2009, they gave $1 million to create the Mizzou New Music Initiative, which includes the Sinquefield Composition Prize, as well as support for scholarships, ensembles, faculty, and an international composer festival at the school. In 2013, the couple gave $1.4 million more towards this initiative.

As we often say here at IP, past giving often leads to more giving. Often, these kinds of gifts escalate, as a donor doubles down on a previous effort. Indeed, this latest $10 million gift is the largest gift ever to University of Missouri to support the fine arts.

But why such a commitment to fine arts and music at the university? Well, Jeanne is actually an avid musician who plays in several symphonies. The couple has also supported the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Shakespeare Festival, and the St. Louis Art Museum. Jeanne also sits on the steering committee at the University of Missouri.

When completed, the new music facility will house all the school's activities under one roof and will create open space across campus for use by other schools and colleges. Construction, which is part of a larger project that includes renovation of the university's Fine Arts Building, is scheduled to begin in 2016.

IP Profile: Rex Sinquefield