The Spirit of Washington University newsletter recently published this story.
Merry Mosbacher, Olin MBA 1982, agreed to serve as one of four co-chairs of Make Way: Our Student Initiative in July. She and her husband, Jim, began discussing how her role as a standard-bearer for the recently launched fundraising effort would affect their giving. Longtime scholarship donors, their total contributions for that purpose at the time topped $1 million.
“Our mindset was, ‘OK, this is a leadership role. We need to lead by example,’” says Mosbacher, a retired partner at St. Louis-based financial services firm Edward Jones.
Their multiyear commitment to Make Way is their largest gift to date. They’ve pledged $2 million for undergraduate scholarships as well as internships through the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.
Mosbacher’s work as a member of the Student Access Advisory Committee (SAAC) shaped the gift. Chancellor Andrew D. Martin convened the SAAC in summer 2021 to help develop the university’s plans to improve access and lay the groundwork for Make Way.
“Getting under the hood with university leaders and learning how WashU compares with peer institutions in terms of scholarships and student support changed how I think about philanthropy,” she says.
Annual and endowed scholarships
The Mosbachers opted to split the scholarship portion of their gift between annual scholarships, which are immediately available to help students, and endowed scholarships, which provide a permanent source of funding over time.
“Previously, we had a bias for annual scholarships because we wanted to put our dollars to work for more students right away,” Mosbacher says. “But my involvement with SAAC helped me see that endowed scholarships are equally important and will allow us to have an impact in the long term as well.”
“Getting under the hood with university leaders and learning how WashU compares with peer institutions in terms of scholarships and student support changed how I think about philanthropy.”Merry Mosbacher
The couple also designated part of their gift to enhance the student experience. Their funding for the Gephardt Institute will finance paid summer internships for undergraduates who work with St. Louis area nonprofits.
“It’s a win-win,” says Mosbacher, whose 38-year career at Edward Jones began with an internship. “It will provide students with meaningful work experience and benefit the St. Louis region, which is an important goal for Jim and me.”
Invest in the legacy
Mosbacher is well suited for her position as a Make Way co-chair. Her volunteer service at WashU includes a stint as president of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, the university’s giving club for donors who make Annual Fund gifts of $1,000 or more. Along with her fellow co-chairs, Mosbacher champions Make Way by speaking at events and helping organize volunteer networks.
Her message to alumni and friends is simple: The quality of students and alumni ultimately define the university. “When you support Make Way, you invest in the legacy of WashU.”