In the spirit of those who established Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) more than 55 years ago, campus officials have presented long-time West Plains residents and community leaders Chuck and Sue Kimberlin with the prestigious Granvil Vaughan Founder’s Award.
The announcement of this year’s recipients was made during Thursday’s the State of the University address by MSU System President Clif Smart and MSU-WP Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster at the West Plains Civic Center.
Normally, the award is presented each year during the MSU-WP commencement ceremony in May, but this year’s presentation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Named in honor of the campus’ founder, the late Missouri State Rep. Granvil Vaughan, the award recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact upon the mission of Missouri State-West Plains.
“Chuck and Sue Kimberlin have, for years, quietly and consistently been the best of supporters for Missouri State-West Plains,” MSU-WP Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster said. “They have shared their time, energy, wisdom and resources with our faculty, staff and students in ways many on campus wouldn’t even know about. By sharing of themselves, the Kimberlins have made a significant and meaningful difference in our lives and the life of the West Plains campus.”
Campus ties go back to the beginning
The Kimberlins’ ties to MSU-WP go back to its beginnings when Chuck’s mother, Irene, supported efforts by Vaughan to establish the local campus. Chuck, himself, began his collegiate career at what was then known as the Residence Center of Southwest Missouri State University.
Chuck and Sue met at the Springfield campus and, after completing their degrees, began careers serving Missouri residents through the Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Missouri Division of Employment Security, respectively, in St. Joseph and later in Kirksville.
Eventually, Chuck’s career led the family to West Plains where he became the division’s district supervisor. At the time of his retirement, he had served Missourians with disabilities for 35 years.
Sue, who had begun work on a teaching degree at Northeast Missouri State University, completed her certification locally and spent 24 years in teaching before retiring.
During his tenure as district supervisor, Chuck helped establish what is now known as the Ozark Independent Living Center with director Cindy Moore. He spent many years on the center’s board of directors as center officials helped those in need. In addition to their many good works in the community, OIL officials established several scholarships at MSU-WP through the center, including one in the Kimberlins’ name.
‘Good things begin at home’
Living by the mantra “good things begin at home,” the Kimberlins have shown their support for the university in many ways. They’ve given to numerous scholarships, programs and endowments, and participated in a variety of university-sponsored activities.
They’ve given each year to the Annual Fund since its establishment in 2008, they’ve supported the Friends of the Garnett Library and the Garnett Library’s Book Fund, and they’ve made major contributions to the Ozarks Heritage Resource Center.
Chuck also gifted more than 50 Civil War-era letters once given to his mother, a well-known local genealogist with contacts across the country, to the Garnett Library in her honor. The letters, which were found after Irene died, were written by Sgt. John L. Arnold, a young man from Trenton, New Jersey, who served in Company E of the 97th New York Regiment. They range from the earliest days of the war in 1860 until 1864 when he was discharged as a captain from the Union Army.
The Kimberlins were among the first to support the Grizzly Athletics Department in 1993, and since that time they’ve contributed to and established scholarships for student athletes, including the Chuck and Sue Kimberlin Grizzly Endowed Scholarship. They’ve also participated in the annual Trivia Night for Grizzly Athletics and the Adopt-A-Grizzly program.
In addition to being long-time members of the Grizzly Booster Club, Chuck has served on its Executive Board of Directors for many years.
He also has served two different terms on the Development Board and was its president for one year. And, he has served on the Trivia Night Committee for several years.
“MSU-WP was a valuable resource to my clients,” Chuck said. “The administration and staff were always very helpful with special needs and other assistance. This close association has resulted in many long-time friendships.
“Sue and I loved the association with our sports athletes and participated in the Adopt-A-Grizzly program until it ended. We still have contact with a number of those students,” he added.
“I enjoyed board membership on the booster club and Development Board,” he said. “There have always been interests for Sue and I around campus, such as the Annual Fund and Garnett Library, and opportunity to visit with students at the Scholarship Luncheon.”
This is the 21st year the award has been presented.