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CEO funds county scholarship

Alumnus from Texas first to support Flagship Scholars


Mark McAndrew sits next to Dena Eddleman, the first recipiant of the endowed Flagship Scholarship, funded by McAndrew's $1.4 million dollar gift. The gift is the first fully funded county scholarship in the state. Photo by Nicholas Benner. 

Mark McAndrew of McKinney, Texas, knows firsthand the lack of opportunity students from rural backgrounds encounter when entering college. To improve college access for students in his home county — Clark County, Mo. — he and his wife, Stephanie, gave $1.4 million to fund the University of Missouri Flagship Scholars program in Clark County.

McAndrew grew up in Kahoka, Mo., a town in northeast Missouri with a population less than 2,000. “Kahoka is very rural,” McAndrew says. “So many kids who live in a rural environment feel that they don’t have the opportunity to go to college.” He established the scholarship in honor of his parents, Jack and Ladene, who never had the opportunity to attend college. In addition to McAndrew, BS BA ’75, only one of McAndrew’s six other siblings was able to attend college.

“When I was in Clark County a few years ago, I saw one of my high school classmates,” McAndrew says. “He was very bright, in the top 10 of his class, but he never made it to college. I realized how unfortunate it is that people like him and so many other students never have the chance to go to college. I hope this scholarship program makes it possible for more students to have that chance.”

The Flagship Scholars program aims to provide at least one four-year, full-ride scholarship in every Missouri county and in the city of St. Louis. Clark County is currently the only county fully funded by a private donor. The McAndrews’ gift enables the university to immediately award a one-year scholarship followed by four-year scholarships each year for the county.

The recipient of the first scholarship is MU senior Dena Eddleman of Kahoka, Mo. As an ambassador for the university, this scholarship “will help me give back to the community that’s given me a lot,” Eddleman says. “I am so thankful to Mr. McAndrew for the chance he has given me. Because he helped me in my last year, I feel like I can continue school after I graduate.”

Personally, college was a tough time, McAndrew says. After working in a factory for a couple of years to support his young family, he was motivated to finish his degree. Now, he is chairman and chief executive officer of Torchmark Corp. in McKinney, Texas, a holding company specializing in life and supplemental health insurance. He has been with the company since 1980. The McAndrews live in McKinney with their two children, Mary and John. They have four adult children, Emily, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Miranda.

“Giving to the Flagship Scholars program is a chance to leave a legacy. These scholarships will impact students for the rest of their lives,” Mark McAndrew said. “I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from MU because of my achievements in high school. I would not be where I am today without my college education; it has been instrumental in allowing me to advance in my career.”

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