Gary Drewing donates $100 K to Tradition Meets TomorrowTrustee is owner of Machens family of dealerships; his son is a graduate.
The January afternoon was foreboding, with gusty winds, temperatures in the 20s and sporadic snowshowers. Inside the Lee Room of Dulany Hall, however, the warmth was palpable as Dr. Gerald Brouder stepped to the podium to introduce Gary Drewing, Columbia College trustee and sole owner of the Machens family of mid-Missouri car dealerships.
Drewing, whose son Gary Jr. graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from Columbia College in 1999, donated $100,000 to Tradition Meets Tomorrow, the college's science initiative that seeks to build a dedicated new science building. Drewing became a trustee in 1999 and has been a generous contributor over the years, providing support to athletics, the Atkins-Holman Student Commons, Destination Excellence and many other campaigns and initiatives.
Drewing joined Joe Machens Ford in 1983 as partner and general manager. He became sole owner of the Machens dealership in 2006. Machens is today one of the area's largest employers, with over 550 employees. Machens Ford is the No. 1 Ford dealership in sales in Missouri and one of the top 25 in the nation.
Drewing said his connection to the college began when he dated a young lady from Christian College, a connection strengthened as his son studied and played soccer here.
"He had a remarkable experience," said Drewing. Drewing added the changes in the college he has witnessed in the past 12 years have been truly remarkable, and he singled out Columbia College employees for praise. "The key to success in any business is its people," he said.
Drewing also singled out Michael Kateman, executive director of development, alumni and public relations and men's basketball coach Bob Burchard for his team's winning ways.
"I take great pride not only in the rich history of Christian and now Columbia College but also because of the college's reputation as an innovator in higher education," Brouder said. "And this vision includes not only a new state-of-the-art science building but the establishment of the college as a key part of science education and the research corridor in Columbia, the state of Missouri and truly through the entire Midwest."
Brouder then asked the 15 or so college's science faculty and students in attendance to stand – or if they were standing in the back of the standing-room only room, wave — which they did to a rousing ovation.
The Columbia corridor Brouder referred to is an arc of biotech and science facilities that stretches from the Discovery Ridge Research Park south of Columbia to the life sciences facilities of the University of Missouri and continues through general and specialized hospitals (veterans, cancer), terminating with Columbia Regional Hospital at the city's eastern edge. Columbia College would be at the center of this corridor.
The statewide corridor begins in the east with the Danforth Plant Science Center, dozens of labs and bio-incubators in St. Louis and ends with the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and about 200 biotech companies (according to ThinkKC.com) in Kansas City. Again, Columbia is right in the middle.