Hindman Receives Honorary Degree
Former Columbia mayor dedicated his life to Missourians.
Darwin Hindman, who received an honorary degree at commencement Dec. 20, 2014, came of age in Columbia at a time of war-rationed gasoline. That meant most people walked, biked or rode the bus. “Those forms of transportation worked and were fun and healthful and taught me those options should be available to everyone,” says Hindman, BA ’55, JD ’61.
Hindman, a five-term Columbia mayor (1995–2010), is nationally recognized as a leader in the design of community physical activity programs. His efforts have resulted in numerous improvements to Missouri’s parks, trails and alternative transportation initiatives; the creation of city healthy living programs; and measures that increase the economic strength of Columbia and Missouri.
As mayor, he established the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health; the Mayor’s Race Relations Task Force; and the Mayor’s Bike, Walk and Wheel to Work Week. He also worked to secure a $22 million federal grant to make Columbia more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly through a pilot project promoting alternative transportation methods.
“As a young person in Columbia, it was easy to get downtown to the movies or our great public library and to campus with my parents for lectures, concerts, plays, and exhibits and athletic events. But Columbia was by no means perfect. For example, it had no parks,” he says.
As founder and chair of the KATY Trail Coalition, Hindman was instrumental in the creation of the cross-state Katy Trail State Park, a walking and biking trail more than 200 miles long that has become one of the state’s most popular parks. The MKT Nature and Fitness Trail originates in Columbia and connects to the Katy and Hindman Junction near the Missouri River at McBaine.
Hindman earned MU degrees in political science and law. MU has bestowed many honors on him, including the Mizzou Alumni Association Faculty-Alumni Award, MU College of Arts and Science Distinguished Alumni Award, and induction into the law school’s Order of the Coif.
The former U.S Air Force bomber pilot has won national recognition as well. In 2009, he received the Leadership for Healthy Communities Award, along with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. He also was recognized in Parade Magazine for his advocacy of alternative transportation and public recreation.
His pride in his hometown’s recreational offerings is apparent. “Nearly every citizen lives near a public park or trail. They are used by thousands. They are inclusive. Trails serve as parks and as transportation. There is something for everyone, from the disabled to the highly able, and using them is free. They pay back by adding satisfaction to citizens’ lives, promoting health and just plain fun,” he says.