Excellence in Every Degree
Since graduating from Mizzou in 1988 with a master’s degree in education, Titus Blackmon bounced around the country keeping busy in various positions with State Farm Insurance. But it wasn’t long before he missed Mizzou.
“When I got the alumni magazine, I’d first catch up on the class notes about the people that I know, then I’d read the features about students and faculty and athletes,” Blackmon says. He made a point of checking out the ads because they sometimes brought to mind his college haunts, such as the Heidelberg. “I really enjoyed campus and Columbia. The ads reminded me of good times. I’m nostalgic like that.”
One day in 1994, a postcard arrived from Joel Sipes, BS Ag ’70, inviting Blackmon to help start a chapter in Topeka, Kan., where he lived then. He was ripe. “Whatever you need,” he told Sipes, “I’m there.” Blackmon was soon involved planning picnics and fundraisers for scholarships. The chapter took off. “For me, the whole thing was about meeting other Tigers and getting together to do events,” says Blackmon, who now lives in Baltimore. “It was very much a feel-good thing. We got together often whether there were events or not. We became a family and still keep in touch. It was about the people.”
The association’s national board noticed Blackmon’s work and in 2001 invited him for a two-year stint on the board. “Suddenly you are looking at more than your own chapter. You are looking at everything from a national perspective,” Blackmon says. Although it was still about the people, he also felt pride in the strong pull of the new responsibility he had taken on, including money matters. “On the national level, you want to make sure that the University’s traditions continue and the legacy lives on.”
Excellence in every degree
Blackmon’s story belongs to just one of the association’s 40,000 members, says David Roloff, director of membership and marketing. “People join for all sorts of reasons. Most say they join because supporting the University is the right thing to do and strengthens the value of an MU degree.”
In a way, the association acts as a sort of glue, says Executive Director Todd McCubbin. “We connect people with a common bond to the University.” Alumni expect and receive different sorts of benefits from their memberships. “At the Mizzou Alumni Association our primary mission is to support the best interests and traditions of Missouri’s flagship university.”
The best way to support MU in general is by joining the association, Roloff says. Membership dollars fund research grants for faculty, scholarships for students, and operating funds for alumni chapters as well as MU’s school and college alumni organizations all which increase the value of the Mizzou experience.
Like going home
Blackmon and many others support the University through membership out of gratitude for what they learned as students in and out of the classroom. “It was a time when I came into my own, when I realized I actually had some talent.”
He traces social skills he uses in business to his time as a graduate assistant, when he refereed and ran intramural leagues. “I learned a lot about listening in that job. I could have taken the attitude that people have to listen to me and do what I say. But I measured success by how many got involved in our activities. If people think you are listening to them, they become invested in whatever you are doing. I sell insurance, and if people don’t trust you, forget about it. That’s what I learned in the gym. People can look in your eyes and tell if you really care about them.”
He has carried that warm feeling about the University with him all over the country, and that’s why he keeps coming back. “It feels really nice to be at the dinner table at my parents’ house on Thanksgiving. That is the sort of feeling I get on campus. It’s home.”
Did you know?
One hundred percent of annual membership dues and 75 percent of life membership dues are tax deductible. A record-breaking 39,000 MU alumni, fans and friends joined the association this year. In fall 2008, the association and its chapters awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships to 205 students attending MU through the Mizzou Alumni Scholars program.
Follow the dollar
Membership dues support a variety of worthwhile programs and services at MU:
30% University support, such as scholarships, athletic events, faculty alumni awards, faculty research grants, legislative activities and other university projects
22% Alumni activities, such as Homecoming, reunions and diversity programs
22% Volunteer support, such as Leaders Weekend and funding for chapters, school/college alumni organizations and affinity groups
15% Communications, such as MIZZOU magazine, Web site and annual report
11% Member services, such as recruitment, retention and promotion
Read more about the Mizzou Alumni Association.
Become a member of the Mizzou Alumni Association.