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Southeast Alumni Pay it Forward

Tom and Julie WoodSoutheast Missouri State University alumni Tom and Julie Wood of St. Louis, Mo., wanted to give back to the University that had given them so much.

"We had a great education and wonderful life experiences at Southeast," says Tom. "We gained a lot at Southeast, and both of us feel a need to pay it forward."

Access to a great education at an affordable college is what brought Tom and Julie to Southeast as undergraduates.

"I came from a solid home background, but would not have been able to afford college elsewhere," says Tom. "Even then, I needed to work every summer and had jobs during the school years in three of my years at Southeast."

"Southeast was known for an excellent women's physical education and health department," says Julie, who transferred to Southeast for her junior and senior years because of the University's affordability.

Tom and Julie graduated from what was then known as Southeast Missouri State Teachers College in 1966. Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in marketing, and Julie completed a Bachelor of Science in Education, secondary education, with a major in health and physical education.

While at Southeast, she enjoyed the smaller class sizes Southeast offers and the personal and individualized relationship between students and professors, Julie says. Her experiences with the women's physical education department and the Delta Delta Delta (Tri Delta) sorority provided opportunities for developing her leadership, social and independence skills.

Tom's experiences at the Capaha Arrow, the forerunner to Southeast's current Arrow student newspaper, and in the office of the school's first public information office, were keys to the beginning of his career in journalism. The journalism and business classes he took at Southeast gave him the foundation to a successful career, and the leadership opportunities he was afforded with experiences in Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity gave him the confidence to be comfortable in social settings, Tom says. He is especially grateful for the scholarship he earned through the Interfraternity Council.

"That $100, while it may seem small to anyone these days, was huge for me and kept me in school that year," he says. "That kept my head above water one year when I was really broke."

Remembering that scholarship and the opportunities it provided for him make him want to pay it forward every day, Tom says.

To help make a college education—a quality education—available to new generations of Southeast students, Tom and Julie recently created a deferred gift annuity and established a scholarship in their name.

The Woods recently completed a generous five-year commitment made as part of Southeast's Honoring Tradition Inspiring Success campaign. As a result of their generosity, a scholarship is awarded each year to a student in need of financial assistance.

Furthermore, as a result of a deferred charitable gift annuity arrangement, Tom and Julie will receive income during their lives beginning in fall 2018. After their lifetimes, the remaining amount will endow the scholarship in their names.

"We hope the scholarship will make it possible for a deserving student, who might not be able to attend college otherwise, to gain a quality education at Southeast," Tom says. "Or it might make it possible for that student to not have to work during their college years in order to focus singly on the education aspect of this great University."

The Tom and Julie Wood Scholarship is a renewable scholarship for students enrolled at Southeast who are pursuing an education or mass communication degree, graduated from Washington (Missouri) High School or Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School and are in need of financial assistance. If there is no student meeting these qualifications, the scholarship will be awarded to a student who has high academic promise and who otherwise might not be able to attend college.

Tom and Julie hope their scholarship will continue to help many generations of students have the financial freedom to reach their educational and personal goals.

"The best memory of all is that I met my best friend and love of my life at Southeast," Tom says. "We want students to know that there is help out there if you need it. And in the future, you may be able to help others in a similar way."

In addition to their current and planned gifts, Tom and Julie also continue to be involved through giving of their time and expertise. Tom is an emeritus member of the Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma alumni association, and Julie has served on the St. Louis Executive Committee of Southeast's Alumni Association. Tom and Julie hope their gift will inspire other alumni to support the University, whether it's monetarily or through service.

"There are always other ways to pay it forward," says Tom. "If you received help from someone, whether financial or in other ways, from a faculty member, alumnus or family, you can spread that benefit by helping future students."

Plan Your Support for Southeast

To learn more about planning a gift to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, contact Trudy G. Lee, Ed.D. at 573.651.5935 or 888.812.3769 or

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Southeast Missouri University Foundation, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 63701, [the sum of _____] or [_____% of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal] for its charitable purposes in support of Southeast Missouri State University [for its unrestricted use] or [to establish the _____________ Fund]."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Southeast or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Southeast as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Southeast as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Southeast where you agree to make a gift to Southeast and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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