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All Out For Mizzou

Dudley McCarterIt took Dudley McCarter four years longer than most students to get to Mizzou. “When I was in high school, I always thought, hoped and believed that’s where I’d wind up,” recalls McCarter, JD ’75. But there was a hitch. McCarter, winner of the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2009, wanted to play football in college. “For reasons I’m still not sure of,” he says with a grin, “Coach Dan Devine wasn’t interested in a 160-pound lineman.”

So, McCarter earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at Knox College, an academically rigorous Division III school in Galesburg, Ill., where he played football and wrestled. When it came time for law school, Mizzou was on his list again.

Back then, tuition was about $250 a semester, much less costly than private law schools in Missouri. To boot, the school got a thumbs up from people in the profession. “Lawyers I talked to said students were getting a great education at MU. When I applied, 99 percent of Mizzou’s law graduates were passing the bar exam. That was clearly better than other schools I looked at.”

Soon after graduation, McCarter, a lawyer in St. Louis, joined the alumni association and started attending events. His first formal position as a volunteer was as president of the law school alumni organization.

Since then, he has held numerous volunteer posts with the governing board, legislative advocacy committee, St. Louis chapter and parents association. “His contribution to MU is an accumulation of many things he has done over time,” says Todd McCubbin, M Ed ’95, executive director of the association. “He’s found a hundred ways to support Mizzou.”

McCarter was drawn to the spirit of the people he met at association events. “It got in my blood,” he says. “I saw the enthusiasm that alumni leaders had as well as their love for MU. They were a collegial group with one thing in mind — to support Mizzou.”

On the other hand, the state government’s lack of support for the university raises McCarter’s ire. He calls it “appalling” that state government support for higher education ranks 45th of 50 states in per capita spending for higher education. “The University of Missouri is synonymous with the state of Missouri in many respects,” he says. “When the university does well, the state does well. This is not just symbolic. The economic fortunes of Missouri are tied to the university, which not only attracts businesses and promotes culture but also educates the workforce. It’s all inextricably entwined.”

McCarter is right on, says Larry McMullen, BA ’53, JD ’59, a Kansas City lawyer and one of the co-chairs of the For All We Call Mizzou campaign, which raised $1.04 billion for MU from 2000–08. “His words show you his passion. When he focuses on something for the benefit of the university, he is outspoken and works to advance what he thinks is important.” Sometimes he advances Mizzou from a soapbox. But oftentimes it’s one-on-one.
“He connects people to the university. I wish I could bottle what he does,” association director McCubbin says.

What McCarter does is increase the size of what he calls the Mizzou family. “A lot of people are interested in Mizzou but sit on the sidelines,” McCarter says. “I find that if I reach out and ask them to an event, they come and have fun and meet people they like, and it doesn’t take long to get them involved. They just want that invitation and someone to introduce them around.”

McMullen has watched McCarter in action several times. “When I’m at alumni events, I see him quietly working the room with his camera, meeting people and taking lots of pictures. I say to myself, ‘There he goes again, helping people feel at ease.’ A few days later, sure enough, he sends me a photo of myself at the event. I don’t know how many of those I must have.”