Estate gift to School of Dentistry tops $10 million

Gift from Dr. Robert and Mrs. Lucille Cowan will more than double scholarships for UMKC dental students


April 30, 2015

A $10.3 million estate gift from Dr. Robert and Mrs. Lucille Cowan to the University of Missouri-Kansas City represents the third largest gift in university history, the UMKC Foundation announced this week.

The university originally announced the bequest in 2009 as an $8.2 million gift, but university officials said market growth has substantially increased its value. The gift supports an endowed scholarship to help students attending the School of Dentistry. It is expected to more than double the number of scholarships available to dental students.

“Robert and Lucille Cowan left an amazing legacy to UMKC and to future generations of dentists,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “We are grateful for their generosity. The confidence their bequest shows in UMKC is humbling, and their gift will be transformative to this university and this community for many, many years to come.”

The Cowans, who lived in Branson, Missouri, both died in 2011. Dr. Cowan, who was a 1949 graduate of what was then the University of Kansas City School of Dentistry, said when the gift was announced that he wanted to help dental students with the financial challenges associated with their education. He knew firsthand how difficult it could be, having had to work part-time in a tax office while he attended dental school in the 1940s.

In recognition of the Cowans’ gift, the UMKC School of Dentistry named its public service and student training clinics — the first floor of the UMKC School of Dentistry — the Dr. Robert and Mrs. Lucille Cowan Center for Clinical Care.

Marsha Pyle, dean of the School of Dentistry, said the Cowans’ gift will benefit students for many years to come.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Cowan,” she said. “Their remarkable, generous gift will have a huge positive impact on our ability to award greater scholarships to deserving dental students. Their willingness to designate their gift for the future of our students is a very special gesture of confidence in our profession, our program and the students who will benefit for many years.”