Trudy LeeEach of us has a story to tell—a story written over a lifetime that is uniquely one’s own. Southeast Missouri State University has its own story—one that has spanned nearly 150 years so far.

Many alumni, faculty, retirees, families and students are sharing their memories about Southeast as the university’s sesquicentennial approaches in 2023. It is an inspiration to hear how Southeast has impacted so many lives and how those individuals continue to impact the University.

In December of 2001, Trudy Lee began the chapter of her life story at Southeast. She first served as Director of Planned Giving, followed by Assistant Vice President for Advancement Services and Planned Giving and is concluding her career as Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the University Foundation.

“Southeast has had a tremendous impact on my life and my family,” Trudy says. “I have worked with so many wonderful people during my 20 years at Southeast, including alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff. Most especially, it has been my privilege to help so many generous people accomplish their philanthropic goals and make a tremendous difference at Southeast through their philanthropic gifts.”

Just as Trudy’s life has been impacted by Southeast, she has left a significant impact on Southeast. Most recently, as Vice President for the past four years, she collaborated with a great team in the Advancement Division and on the University Foundation Board to develop new policies and procedures, reorganize the staff structure, and implement new technology, resulting in more effective support to our donors, alumni and the University community.

Trudy’s most lasting impact has been as Director of Planned Giving. She and her team have created a program that raises the impact of charitable giving and fosters a culture of philanthropy in the southeast Missouri region and the University community. Working beside her colleagues and advisors, she has assisted donors with their own philanthropic planning. Her efforts have, and continue to, result in significant charitable gifts, planned gifts, endowments, scholarships, improved facilities and support of athletic programs.

“Leaving a legacy through a philanthropic gift not only involves deciding how to allocate your assets but also how to pass on what is truly important to you—your values, your ideals, your special story,” Trudy shares. “It has been my great privilege to help many wonderful individuals tell their stories to future generations.”

Trudy goes on to say, “Each of us has a unique tale to tell, and we come and go in others’ stories and in the long and wonderful story of this great university. The most rewarding aspect of my career has been the opportunity to connect individual stories together. For example, when a donor meets with a student who was helped through his or her scholarship, a powerful connection is made for all those involved.”

This connection became very personal when Trudy met the first scholarship recipient of the endowed scholarship established in her parents’ names several years ago. “During that conversation, I had the privileged to learn about the student’s life, and I also shared my background with the recipient,” she recalls. “More importantly, I had the honor of sharing my parents’ legacy and telling their story to another generation.”

In reflecting on more than a quarter of a century in planned giving, including six years at the University of New Mexico before coming to Southeast, Trudy concludes, “Helping others tell their stories and connecting these together is a great joy, a tremendous responsibility and a true blessing. I want to thank our donors for the trust and confidence you have shown in me, for the difference you’ve made in my life through your vision and inspiration and for filling my life with tremendous joy, with many special friendships and with blessings beyond measure.”

Your plans can be a powerful legacy that makes a world of positive difference to the people and places you choose to remember. You have an opportunity to help future generations of Southeast students attend the University. The cornerstone of Southeast Missouri State University’s ongoing success is the involvement and investment of people like you who make a difference by remembering Southeast with a gift in their will. Create your legacy and be remembered forever.

If you would like more information about planned giving or if you have already remembered Southeast in your estate plan, please contact Ally Campbell at 573-986-6763 or