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University of Missouri

The Gift of Leadership

Cornell Leadership Program prepares students for high-octane careers.

Marie Schaller portrait

The Cornell Leadership Program prepares students, such as Marie Schaller, for high-octane careers. Photo courtesy Marie Schaller.

Cool and collected, Marie Schaller stood before a room of wealthy investors, colleagues, and their friends and family at the launch party of ICanWin, a St. Louis nonprofit dedicated to linking patients with experimental therapies. Their first industry partnership is with Immunophotonics, a St. Louis biotech startup developing a therapeutic cancer vaccine. The party was critical to kick-starting the partnership, and the MU senior and Immunophotonics intern had helped plan the event, prepare the PowerPoint presentation and introduce the speakers.

Schaller’s four years of training in the Cornell Leadership Program (CLP) in the Trulaske College of Business meant that the sweaty palms and palpitations one might expect in such situations were absent. “I felt much more confident and comfortable,” the Columbia native says. “I knew what a great presentation looks like and how it flows, so it was easy to make one.”

CLP gives high-achieving business students experiences far beyond the classroom. Students travel to businesses across the country and the world, have lunch with CEOs, and receive mentoring from MU business alumni. In 2006, a gift from Harry Cornell, BS BA ’50, founded the program. In May, he gave a $6 million endowment to fund it in perpetuity.

CLP’s open-ended research projects and a field trip to a startup accelerator in Santiago, Chile, helped prepare Schaller for the do-anything startup culture.

And she nailed the launch party. ICanWin raised $20,000 of its $200,000 goal in just two days. The crowdfunding campaign is raising money through Aug. 27, 2015. More: tinyurl.com/icanwinlaunch

Other recent gifts to MU include:

• $2.5 million from the MU Retirees Association, announced May 22, representing the group’s annual giving;

• $1 million pledged by Tim Blair, BJ ’73, announced April 24, to create the Timothy D. Blair Fund for LGBT Coverage in Journalism.