WEST PLAINS, Mo. – In the spirit of those who established Missouri State University-West Plains 50 years ago, campus officials presented David Gohn, former West Plains Bank and Trust Company president and current CEO and chairman of the board, with the prestigious Granvil Vaughan Founder’s Award during Saturday’s Missouri State-West Plains commencement ceremonies at the West Plains Civic Center.
The award, named in honor of the campus’ founder, the late Missouri State Rep. Granvil Vaughan, was presented to Gohn by Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett. The award is given annually at commencement to recognize individuals who have made a significant impact upon the mission of Missouri State-West Plains.
“Since our beginning, Mr. Gohn has worked to help establish and grow what is now Missouri State University-West Plains with his time, his leadership and his financial support,” Bennett said. “His efforts, often behind the scenes, continue to this day. He is well deserving of the Granvil Vaughan Founder’s Award.”
Over the years, Gohn has given of his time and resources, personally and in his capacity at the bank, to the university in a variety of ways, university officials noted. West Plains Bank and Trust Company has been a Grizzly Booster Club member since 1993 and has sponsored many games and tournaments over the years. Gohn, himself, was a founding organizer and charter member of the club.
He has been a lifetime member of the Friends of the Garnett Library since 1997, and he and West Plains Bank and Trust Company are members of The Founders Club of Missouri State University. As former president and current CEO and chairman of the board at West Plains Bank and Trust Company, Gohn has sponsored such programs as the Literacy Awareness Campaign, the Science and Technology Fair, the annual Grizzly Golf Classic and the annual auction.
Gohn helped ensure the continued growth of the campus when he and his sister, Virginia Gohn Sapp, donated their family home on West Main Street to the university in 2000 to become a permanent home for Missouri State University’s Outreach Program, which provides upper level undergraduate and graduate classes and degree programs, on the West Plains campus. Additional major contributions by the pair in 2011 and 2012 made the renovation and expansion of Gohn Hall a reality.
Gohn also was chairman of the West Plains Civic Center Board in 1998 when the original agreement between the City of West Plains and the university was developed and approved that led to the creation of the University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department. Through the department, the university provides day-to-day operation of the civic center’s pool and fitness center, as well as a variety of cultural and artistic programs in the center’s theater and other facilities. The agreement also provided a permanent home for the Grizzly basketball and volleyball programs.
Gohn showed his support of and commitment to higher education by serving on the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) from 1982 to 1987, including two years as its chairman.
“David Gohn is an excellent example of a community member who has supported Missouri State-West Plains throughout the years, whether he was playing in a benefit basketball game in 1973 in support of the campus; introducing then Missouri Governor Christopher “Kit” Bond at the Kellett Hall dedication in 1974; serving as a presenter at a small business resource seminar hosted by the campus in 1987; serving on the Emory Melton Hall Roast Committee in 1994 to raise money for an endowed scholarship; participating as a ‘storyteller’ at M.O. Looney Night in 1997; providing Grizzly T-shirts for a pep rally in 2004; attending numerous events over the years; and providing money for the media room in the Garnett Library in 1994, a West Plains Bank and Trust Company scholarship in 2001, and a recent pledge to the Business Professorship Endowment Fund. We believe the breadth and depth of his involvement with Missouri State University-West Plains over several decades truly meets the essence of the Granvil Vaughan Founder’s Award to recognize individuals who have ‘made a significant impact upon the mission of the West Plains campus,'” Bennett said.