MSUM receives single largest gift to the College of Arts & Humanities

Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff
Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff

(Moorhead, MN) -- Minnesota State University Moorhead has announced a $4.3 million gift to the university, the single largest gift to the College of Arts & Humanities and the third largest in the school’s history. The gift was inspired more than 50 years ago by the words and generosity of a faculty member. 

Thomas von Bahr enrolled at Moorhead State College with no clear plan. But during his time at Moorhead State, he discovered a love of literature and music and a passion for learning. He developed enduring friendships with his teachers, including philosophy Professor Charlie Magel. Charlie challenged his ambitious and hard-working student to someday leave a gift to the university — a gift even larger than he planned to bestow. Thomas promised to do so. 

Thomas graduated in 1967 with a degree in English. He was a world traveler, scholar, business owner and community activist. Decades later, when Thomas learned he was dying of cancer, he reached out to MSUM to let us know he was making good on his promise to his friend and mentor.

“When I met Thomas in March of this year, he had already outlived his doctors’ prognosis by several months. He told me how much his time at Moorhead State had meant to him,” said MSUM President Anne Blackhurst. “He wanted to ensure that future students would have the same transformative experience as he did.”

The gift will support scholarships for students majoring in the arts and humanities and fund the Tom and Adrienne Bahr Center for Humanities, named in honor of Thomas’ parents.

“The creation of the Tom and Adrienne von Bahr Center for Humanities will impact students for generations to come,” said Dean Earnest Lamb, College of Arts and Humanities. “Our college shares his passion for open-mindedness and critical thinking. His legacy will live on in the spirit of those ideals.”