MU advancement director advances to retirement

Corporate buyouts played an outsized role in MU Advancement Director for Lead Annual Giving Tim McLaughlin’s career before he landed at Mizzou in 2001 in what was then called development. Stability of accepting the position at Missouri’s land grant and research university is what most drew him to the job and the cultivated relationships and friends he made along the way made it a pleasure.

U Advancement Director for Lead Annual Giving Tim McLaughlin

MU Advancement Director for Lead Annual Giving Tim McLaughlin shown here enjoying a vacation trip - retired from his position at MU on July 2. McLaughlin also served as an MUBG advancement representative along with Ellen McLain.

McLaughlin, who along with Ellen McLain, has served as Mizzou Botanic Garden’s advancement officer in recent years, retired from the university on July 2 of this year.


“I hadn’t been planning to retire but a year and a half at home made me reevaluate things,” McLaughlin said of his experience working remotely due to the Covid pandemic. “I’ve always been proud of working at MU. But my sister died this past year; my son is getting married; I’ve gone through two comprehensive fundraising campaigns at MU and another five-year strategic plan commitment is coming up.”


The timing just made sense.


“We will greatly miss Tim’s advocacy and support of MUBG,” said Pete Millier, MUBG director. “Besides being an enthusiastic partner in our fundraising efforts, he was always upbeat and immediately responsive in all of our requests and interactions. He’s a great guy and a good friend. We wish him the best in his retirement.”


McLaughlin was born and raised in Columbia. His father was a first-generation MU college graduate who worked as the assistant director of purchasing at MU, and his mother, her class valedictorian, had a career as a photo lab technician at MFA Inc.


“I am who I am because of them,” he said.


McLaughlin attended Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school, which he said was very demanding. “I didn’t appreciate the one-on-one attention I got there at the time.


“I was in the first sophomore class [eligible] to attend Rock Bridge where most of my friends from West Junior High were going, but Hickman intrigued me and I chose to go there,” McLaughlin said. “That experience, where I had friends from South America and Europe because their parents were professors, is what I like about Columbia: its diversity.”


McLaughlin was in and out of Mizzou after his first year, blaming his lack of success on immaturity. A neighbor successfully encouraged him to attend Christian College — now Columbia College.


“She was so inspiring,” he said. “And liberal arts were right in my wheelhouse. I found my way there. I was on the dean’s list every semester and got a well-rounded education.”

Buy-out saga

McLaughlin’s first job out of college was working in business administration and marketing for Discwasher in Columbia.


“It was a very laidback environment,” he said. “Everyone there was my age. I met my wife of 32 years, Yvonne, there and made lifelong friends.”


After five years, Discwasher, was bought out and McLaughlin went to work as a training development supervisor for Grolier, a children’s book publisher.


“They had a contract to sell Disney books to young parents and were expanding into telemarketing with an office in Columbia,” he said.


After two years, he made assistant manager and after four, became the manager. And then the company divested, and the facility was closed.


From there, McLaughlin went to Check Office Equipment in Jefferson City, driving back and forth to his job as furniture and office supply manager for four years until the company was sold.


After six phone interviews and a trip out to corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif., McLaughlin went to work for Anabolic Labs, a pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement company.


“They distributed supplements all around the country and were opening a facility north of Columbia,” said McLaughlin, who was hired to manage the site. “We were working a phone bank with clients, many of whom were chiropractors. Three years in, the company was sold.


“After that, I sent out a lot of resumes. Scholastic had bought Grolier and I had an offer from them and also one from Mizzou. At that point, I was sitting in my first home with two young boys, we were close to my parents and the university offered stability. I entered the Division of MU Development working for Dave Housh and Laura Kramer Lucas and have no regrets.”

Development and advancement

McLaughlin said his favorite part of working in advancement was the conversations he had with alumni and friends of the university.


“Donor stories about how MU shaped their lives forever, not just financially, but how it made them who they were, were inspiring,” McLaughlin said. “Romances, first love, legacies — you don’t realize how impactful Mizzou is.


“My job was to inform and educate alumni and friends about MU. My goal was to determine their passion,” McLaughlin said. “How do you match that level of passion with an appropriate gift? You’re looking for things that might have affinity to alumni and friends.”


McLaughlin said he had opportunities for higher roles in MU Advancement but relished the time with his family he might have otherwise spent traveling.

Tim McLaughlin enjoying a light moment with his wife Yvonne and sons

Retiring MUBG advancement representative Tim McLaughlin enjoying a light moment with his wife Yvonne and sons, l. to r., Brendan and Ryan. MUBG wishes Tim lots more good times in the years ahead.


“Ellen McLain [executive director for MU programs] was the first person to work with Mizzou Botanic Garden,” McLaughlin said. “We didn’t originally look at the garden as a fundraising opportunity.”


But friends and alumni have been.


“It seems like this past year, I’ve had more inbound inquiries than ever before,” McLaughlin said of the number of Tribute Tree and Tribute Bench inquires — and dedications — friends and alumni have initiated without contact from someone at MU. “It’s creating momentum. I feel good about it.”


McLaughlin also made note of the particularly generous $2.5 million estate gift made by alums Pat and Sandy Hiatte last December, unprecedented — not even close — in the garden’s 22-year history.


“I wish we could show before and after pictures of campus to friends and alumni,” he added. “Mizzou is not just a beautiful campus, the gardens bring life to campus.


“What I’ll miss most about my work at MU is the lifelong friendships I’ve made. I have such an appreciation for people I’ve spoken with over the years. Even on a bad day, I’d go home from work and realize that I was making a difference.”



Story by Jan Wiese-Fales