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New scholarship established at MSU will benefit Richards School graduates


For 37 years, Donna Hayes gave students in the Richards R-V School District the educational tools they needed to learn and grow.

Now, she and her husband, Michael, are giving the school’s graduates the financial support they need to pursue a college education at Missouri State University-West Plains or Missouri State University in Springfield.

The Missouri State University Foundation recently received a $500,000 gift from the estate of Michael D. Hayes to establish the Donna S. and Michael D. Hayes Scholarship Fund. All money from the fund will be used to award scholarships to Richards School graduates who are seeking an undergraduate degree or certificate at either campus.

“The legacy the Michael and Donna Hayes Estate has created at Missouri State is incredible,” said Brent Dunn, vice president for university advancement at MSU. “It is scholarships like this that remind us of how a passion for good and the generosity of others changes the future of many.”


The scholarship fund honors a very special couple from West Plains, according to estate officials. Not only was Donna Hayes a longtime educator at Richards, but she was also a graduate of the school herself.

“She committed her life to reaching out and helping her pupils learn and succeed in their education, both at Richards and beyond,” said a spokesman for the estate. “Her pride and joy were when a former student greeted her, sharing news of their success and plans for the future.

“There are so many people whose lives were touched by both Donna and Mike,” the spokesman added. “For this reason, it is fitting that this program has been created by the estate of Michael D. Hayes to honor Donna’s life as a teacher and friend to Richards R-V students and families.”

Richards R-V School Superintendent Dr. Melonie Bunn agreed, saying, “Donna was Richards School. Everybody knew Donna. She was a fabulous employee and an amazing teacher. It was her gift. Her classroom was like a perfectly choreographed dance routine. She didn’t have children of her own, so we were her children.”


Bunn said school officials were “blown away” when they first heard about the gift, explaining it will be “life-changing” for the graduates who receive it.

“For a K-8 district, this is a huge gift,” Bunn said. “We’ve talked with administrators at other school districts, and normally this is the type of gift a larger district would receive, not a K-8.

“There will be students who would not have the means to go to the university, or if they did, they would have had to take out loans,” she added. “With this scholarship, they will be able to get their education without any debt at the end. And there will be people who have not had the ability to go to college who will apply for this. I’ve already had calls from people who’ve heard about it.”


The scholarship is open to both traditional and nontraditional students who have graduated from Richards School and are enrolled or plan to enroll full time in either an undergraduate degree or certificate program at MSU-WP or MSU-Springfield.

To be eligible, traditional students seeking an undergraduate degree must have had a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average in high school. Those seeking a certificate must have had a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA in high school.

Nontraditional students seeking either an undergraduate degree or certificate must have a high school diploma or completed a high school equivalency program. No minimum GPA is required. Consideration also will be given to work experience, letters of recommendation and personal statements.

Recipients enrolled at MSU-WP will receive $5,000 scholarships. Those enrolled at MSU-Springfield will receive $10,000 awards. The scholarships will be for one academic year.

They are renewable for up to four years. Degree-seeking recipients must maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA for renewal; students seeking certificates must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA for renewal.


MSU-WP students eligible for the Donna S. and Michael D. Hayes Scholarship should apply through the MSU Foundation Annual Scholarship Application for West Plains, which is open each academic year from Nov. 1 through March 1.

Applicants need to be admitted to MSU-WP and create a My Grizzly Den account, and submit the online MSU-WP scholarship application form.

Once a student has been admitted, they can apply for scholarships at WP.MissouriState.edu/Scholarships.

For more information about MSU-WP scholarships, call 417-255-7750 or email FNDScholarships@MissouriState.edu.


MSU-Springfield students eligible for the Donna S. and Michael D. Hayes Scholarship should apply through the MSU Foundation Annual Scholarship Application for Springfield, which is open each academic year from Nov. 1 through March 1. To apply, students need to be admitted to MSU-Springfield and create a My Missouri State account, access the My.MissouriState.edu Portal using their BearPass Login, select the Student Tab and find the Financial Aid Channel, then select the MSU Foundation Annual Scholarship Application Link.

For more information about the application or other Foundation scholarships, visit the MSU Annual Scholarships website or email FNDScholarships@MissouriState.edu.


University officials said friends and family of the Hayeses are welcome to add contributions to the scholarship fund in memory of Donna and Michael Hayes.

They may drop off donations at the university advancement office in MSU-WP’s Kellett Hall at 905 W. Main St. or they may mail their contributions to:

Missouri State University Foundation

Kenneth E. Meyer Alumni Center

300 S. Jefferson Ave., Suite 100

Springfield, MO  65806

Checks should be made out to the Missouri State University Foundation.

For more information about ways to give, contact the MSU-WP university advancement office at 417-255-7240, email WPUniversityAdvancement@MissouriState.edu or visit WP.MissouriState.edu/UniversityAdvancement.


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