MU receives $1.5 million from legacy donor

Jim Pace, who graduated in 1965, created a fund to strengthen business practices at MU.
Donor Jim Pace and Rhonda Gibler, the vice chancellor for finance, stand together after announcing the Pace family's donation of $1.5 million to improve business operations. Photo by Staff Reporter Riddhi Andurkar

In 1839, John Pace, along with his two brothers, supported efforts to have Columbia as the site of Missouri’s land grant university. John Pace contributed $100, and his two brothers each contributed $50 and $10.

On Friday, MU alumnus and John Pace’s great-great-grandson Jim Pace announced that he gave MU $1.5 million to improve business operations.

Pace graduated from MU with a business degree in 1965 and later became CEO and owner of ROM Corporation, a manufacturing company.

“The education I received at the university along with [other] opportunities through my involvement with athletics gave me exposure to a world and life outside of Central Missouri,” Pace said in his speech. “It allowed me to see how the world works, what success looks like, and most importantly, the opportunities available to those who were willing to work hard. The foundation I received from the university gave me the courage and skills to follow my dream of owning my own business.”

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said that Pace’s time at ROM Corporation has helped him gain knowledge about running a successful business.

“When he came to us with his hopes to pass on that knowledge to us and enhance his legacy of giving, he really had two things in mind,” Cartwright said in his speech. “First, he wanted to support Mizzou and give back to this institution that so many have benefited from being a part of and second, he wanted to help us identify ways to improve our business operations.”

Unlike other gifts MU has received, this gift is for the operations side of the university.

“A lot of the gifts are related to scholarships for our students and investments in research,” Rhonda Gibler, vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer, said. “This gift is actually about acknowledging that for all of that to be successful, the back of the house, the things that support our missions have to be working very well. This gift is to the folks who are behind the scenes trying to make the university successful every day.”

Pace said he had made the pledge for the gift a couple years ago, but wanted to wait for the right time to make the announcement.

“I’ve been thinking about this for several years,” Pace said. “I didn’t want to announce it until I really had the opportunity to see how we were going to progress with what things I would like to see the university do in terms of cost cutting and efficiency.”

According to an MU News Bureau news release, the $1.5 million has helped create secure, user-friendly websites for the finance and cashiers divisions, create a standard training on financial processes for over 4,500 people and implement a portal that helps MU get the best prices on services and supplies.

Edited by Laura Evans |

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