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George Diemer | Sen. David Pearce | District 21 | University News

Ceremony Demonstrates Pearce’s UCM Roots Run Deep

By Jeff Murphy, May 2, 2016

WARRENSBURG, MO – Demonstrating the depth of his University of Central Missouri roots, Sen. David Pearce, District 21, shared a letter with a crowd of university and community members on April 29 that paved the way for a strong family bond with UCM that has spanned generations.

The letter dated May 5, 1942 was signed by George Diemer, who was serving as president of what was then known as Central Missouri State Teachers College. The recipient was the Senator Pearce’s father.

“Dear Mr. Pearce: At a meeting of the Board of Regents on Friday, April 24, you were appointed as an Instructor of Vocational Agriculture for the year beginning June 1 (1942). Salary $166.66 a month,” the letter noted. “You have ten days to sign this or this contract will be null and void.”

“Well, I’m glad to say that my father, Clarence Pearce, signed that contract,” Peace told a gathering at UCM on April 29. “When he signed that contract, it changed his life. It changed the life of his family for generations to come, and more importantly, it changed the lives of hundreds of students he touched. He is always going to be a tremendous role model for me.”

While Clarence Pearce taught students both at the lab school on campus and in college before retiring as a professor emeritus, David Pearce, went on to begin his formal education as a kindergarten student at the lab school, and eventually took college courses at Central Missouri. Throughout this time, he saw the tremendous impact his father had on students, and he also became increasingly aware of UCM’s role in their education.. The strong connection that ensued has since contributed to his longtime support and appreciation for the university, and the students it serves.

“I share this story because it’s not extraordinary. It’s pretty ordinary,” Pearce said. “All of us have had very similar stories about how higher education changes lives. Higher education is transformational. It’s the great equalizer, and so when you have the opportunity to represent UCM in the hall of the legislature, it is a tremendous honor.”

The senator’s remarks came during David Pearce Day, which was celebrated by members of the campus and local community in the atrium of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The special day honoring Pearce was in recognition of his many years of service to the campus, the Warrensburg Community, and Johnson County. It came while Pearce serves the remaining months of his second term of office in the Senate.

Pearce entered the state political arena in 2002 and served three consecutive two-year terms in the Missouri House of Representatives and one term as a Missouri Senator representing District 31. After re-districting, he was elected Senator for District 21, and is now in his fourth and final year of representation in the Senate due to term limits.

UCM President Charles Ambrose led the ceremony honoring Pearce. He presented him with a collage of photos celebrating the campus, as well as a framed Mules athletic jersey. He also announced that Gov. Jay Nixon had provided a proclamation in recognition of the Senator Pearce Day celebration, and introduced Warrensburg Mayor Casey Renfrow, who read a city proclamation honoring Pearce. Additionally, Marvin “Bunky” Wright, president of the Board of Governors, spoke about the strong relationship that exists between UCM and the senator.

“David, the Board of Governors is totally indebted to you for everything you have done for your entire district, but also selfishly for what you’d done for the University of Central Missouri. We greatly appreciate it,” Wright said. He also specifically noted strong appreciation among board members for Pearce’s periodic visits to campus to update the board on legislative matters that affect higher education.

Ambrose reflected on the opportunity he has had to work with Pearce as a member of the Complete College America team that has focused on making college accessible and meeting state and national goals for graduating more adults. He spoke about Pearce’s role as chair of the Senate Education Committee; his support of performance funding to ensure institutions are meeting state goals for high education; legislation that has allowed UCM to maintain its affordability, including three out of six years without a tuition increase; and the welcoming atmosphere Pearce always provides for UCM visitors to his office in the state capitol. He also noted Pearce’s participation in campus and community activities such as the annual Mule Haul to help students move into residence halls at the start of each fall semester.

Prior to Pearce’s remarks, Ambrose mentioned the positive influence of the senator’s father, and what it continues to mean today for UCM.

“In preparation for this event, the story was told that David’s dad had a huge impact on the lives of many young people here in this community, and there was a persistence to this message about service and leadership that was obviously very infectious,” Ambrose said. He then told Pearce. “You have had classmates, brothers, and friends who were really impacted by a great teacher in this community who had that kind of influence…it was obviously passed on to the next generation.”


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