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McNeelys Make Lasting Impact on Performing Arts Program

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Don McNeely, a former news anchor and meteorologist for KFVS, a CBS affiliate television station in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and his wife, Sue, recently endowed two scholarships at Southeast.

The Don McNeely Acting Scholarship, which is designated for performing arts students with an option in acting/directing or musical theatre, was created in his honor by daughters Donna and Laura.The scholarship was presented as a surprise to Don at a reception on campus honoring his 80th birthday. Donna wrote a skit for the event that was performed by a group of Southeast's theatre students.

"I was speechless at first," Don says."To be honored like that in front of all your friends and your close loved ones, it really was gratifying."

The couple was so pleased with the scholarship that they established one in Sue's name a short time later.The Sue Harbison McNeely Dance Scholarship is Southeast's first scholarship devoted primarily to performing arts students with an option in dance.

"I enjoyed my years as a student at Southeast so much, and now it is such a privilege to be able to endow the very first scholarship in dance," Sue says.

The McNeelys have been involved in the performing arts since they walked the halls of Southeast.This passion is what first brought the couple together 54 years ago.

"When I was up on the hill, Don was already out of school and working in radio," Sue says."I was the dance director for a show and Don came back to direct.That's how we first met in Academic Hall."

The McNeelys never lost their passion for the performing arts, and when they were told the scholarships would not go into effect until 2008, they added an additional $500 to each scholarship to make it available this fall.

In addition, the McNeelys took advantage of the 2006 change in the law that created a new charitable planning opportunity by permitting direct transfers from individual retirement accounts to charities.This allowed them to fund the scholarships directly from their IRA without paying tax on the distribution.

"Like so many grads of Southeast, we are very excited about the River Campus," Don says."We are really happy that we can be involved in this way—helping to get some young student off on the right foot, we hope."

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