CAPE GIRARDEAU -- The Southeast Missouri University Foundation has received a seven-figure gift, the largest single gift in its history, to benefit the Southeast Missouri State University Agriculture Research Center and the University's agriculture program.
June Barton of Catron, a 1963 alumna of Southeast with a degree in elementary education, has donated 850 acres of prime farmland in New Madrid County, making the gift possible. Income from the farm will be divided with half going toward an endowment for the ongoing development and future upkeep and improvements to the facilities at the Demonstration Farm and the other half to establish the David M. Barton endowed scholarships for students pursuing a degree in Southeast's Department of Agriculture.
"Through these endowments, Mrs. Barton's overwhelming generosity will support the educational and research opportunities in the fields of agriculture and agribusiness in perpetuity and will benefit Southeast's students forever," said Wayne Smith, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. "This is truly a lasting legacy."
Additionally, the University's Research Farm in Gordonville has been renamed the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center in memory of Mrs. Barton's late husband. The Agriculture Research Center is located at 6885 State Hwy. 25, one and one-half miles south of Gordonville, on the east side of Highway 25. A formal dedication of the naming of the farm is being planned.
Originally from Arkansas, David M. Barton moved to Catron in the early 1930s and farmed in New Madrid County until his death in 1987. His contributions to the agricultural history of Southeast Missouri include 35 years on the board of supervisors of the Little River Drainage District, during which he served as board president from 1962 to 1987. Since her husband's death, Mrs. Barton has served as owner and manager of David M. Barton Farms and has continued farming the land she loves.
Mrs. Barton says she is proud of her husband's impact on agriculture in Southeast Missouri and pleased it will continue at the University as a result of this gift.
"I feel very good about making this gift, and I believe Mr. Barton would have been very pleased too," she said.
Dr. Randy Shaw, dean of Southeast's School of Polytechnic Studies and assistant provost of extended learning, said: "The funding available from this gift will insure that the new David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center will always have the resources needed to do cutting edge research and also provide scholarship assistance to many students wanting to study agriculture. A gift of this size will have a significant and lasting impact on the Department of Agriculture, and on behalf of the faculty and students, I want to express our deepest appreciation for the gift."
This is not the first time Mrs. Barton has made a donation to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. She also has made gifts to support the University's River Campus and to a scholarship established in her brother's memory.