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Notable Author Gives $1.6 Million to Support MU Libraries, Scholarships

Gifts will support library special collections endowment, scholarships for health professions students

September 11th, 2015

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Columbia residents Jo Ann (Jan) and William Trogdon (William Least Heat-Moon), have pledged a $1.5 million estate gift to the University of Missouri in support of a rare books and special collections endowment for the MU Libraries. Additionally, the Trogdons have given $100,000 to support scholarships in the MU School of Health Professions.

The endowed gift will increase the existing William Trogdon Libraries Fund, which enables the purchase and conservation of rare materials in the fields of American exploration, travel and topography, and Native American studies by the MU Libraries. The Trogdons’ latest gift brings their total donations to the MU Libraries to $3.5 million, not including rare and unique works from their personal collection that have been or will be donated to the MU Libraries.

The gift to the MU School of Health Professions (SHP) will create the Ralph Grayston Trogdon Scholarship, in honor of William’s father. The scholarship will support SHP students with physical disabilities who aspire to become health care practitioners.

“One of my earliest and fondest memories are of my father teaching me to read,” Trogdon said. “Books are important artifacts in our culture. My love for books – their look, feel and even their smell – is something inherent within me. This passion that exists for Jan and me, as well as our love for Ellis Library, has made this a very easy decision. Further, my father was a man who believed in service, who believed in helping people, and we felt like we should do something to honor him in a way that would assist others seeking careers in health professions.”

“We are very appreciative to the Trogdons who have demonstrated their passion for books and libraries with a perpetual endowment that will enrich generations of MU students and scholars to come,” MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said. “The Trogdons’ generous gift will help us further MU’s mission of providing a first-class education and unparalleled research opportunities for our students.”

“Will and Jo Ann Trogdon have long shown their generosity to the MU Libraries,” said Jim Cogswell, director of MU Libraries. “The Trogdon Libraries Fund is the most prominent illustration of this, but they have long supported us in other ways. In our Adopt-a-Book program, for example, the Trogdons are among the top five donors to that fund, which enables the repair or conservation of rare books. This most recent gift will ensure their legacy to MU and its libraries forever.”

“It’s important that our students—future health care providers—are as diverse as the populations they will serve in their communities,” said Kristofer Hagglund, dean of the School of Health Professions. “The Trogdons’ generous gift will provide financial help to students with disabilities, removing one of the barriers to their education, and contributing to the diversity of the future health care work force.”

William Trogdon, also known as William Least Heat-Moon, is internationally known for his New York Times best-selling book, Blue Highways.  He has published a total of nine books about history and travel, and he holds five degrees from MU, including bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism, master’s and doctorate degrees in English and an honorary degree. Jo Ann Trogdon is an attorney and a historian, and her book, The Unknown Travels and Dubious Pursuit of William Clark, was published by the University of Missouri Press in September, 2015. Will and Jan have long shared a passion for American history and travel literature, a pursuit that led to their meeting while conducting research into manuscripts and other materials housed in Ellis Library and the State Historical Society.