CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 28, 2014 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today announced receipt of a $1.7 million gift from Donald G. and Gloria King LaFerla of Carthage, Mo., in support of students pursuing degrees in health care, technology and education. The Board is honoring the long-time service and philanthropy of the LaFerlas through the naming of the Donald G. and Gloria King LaFerla Residence Hall. The newest campus residence hall is located on the north end of campus and opened in fall 2013.
The honor recognizes the generosity of the LaFerlas and honors Mr. LaFerla’s service as a Southeast Missouri University Foundation board member since 2001. Both Mr. and Mrs. LaFerla are members of the Southeast Missouri University President’s Council, the Horizon Club and the Copper Dome Society.
“The LaFerlas’ philanthropy will be one of the most extraordinary legacies in the history of Southeast Missouri State University, and their commitment of their time, talents and treasures to Southeast should certainly inspire all of us,” said Doyle Privett, president of the University’s Board of Regents. “The naming of the residence hall creates a visible reminder that the success of many of our students rests on the shoulders of remarkable alumni like the LaFerlas.”
The dedication ceremony for the naming of the building is scheduled for 5 p.m., Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the residence hall, immediately following the spring commencement ceremony.
“Our strong interest in education, technology and health sciences led us to set up endowed scholarships in each of these areas,” said Gloria King LaFerla. “We enjoy knowing we can help students to pursue their education and to fulfill their goals in these fields.”
According to Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, “Don and Gloria’s philanthropy has allowed and will continue allowing Southeast to financially support students in areas of great need. Their gifts will have an enduring impact at the University, and their legacy deserves an enduring physical presence.”
Both Gloria’s father, Luther A. King (’57), and her brother, Robert M. King (’58), graduated from Southeast Missouri State College, as it was known at the time. She attended College High School on the campus of the college for three years before her family relocated to Arnold, Mo., in 1958.
Don and Gloria met in 1959 as students at Southeast Missouri State College. Gloria, who had graduated from Fox High School, was a member of Alpha Xi Delta Sorority and Don, a St. Louis native, majored in biology and geology, and was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. He graduated in 1961 and the couple were married soon afterwards in St. Louis, Mo. Don served as a senior system analyst and requirements planner at Emerson Electric Company and was also employed by McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis. During his tenure with those companies, he earned a certificate in systems analysis and data processing from St. Louis University-Metropolitan College, and completed coursework towards a Master of Science in engineering administration from the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Gloria began her career at IBM Corporation in St. Louis, but took off several years while the couple’s two sons were young. In 1973, she graduated from Florissant Valley College with academic honors and an Associate of Arts degree. That same year, Don accepted a position at Leggett and Platt, Inc., in Carthage, Mo., and the young family relocated to that area. He progressed through six higher-level positions before retiring in April 2001 as a corporate officer and vice president of administrative services. Gloria retired from the National Marketing Division of the IBM Joplin Office in 1996.
The couple has been active in a number of community and national service activities. Gloria was active in the Parent-Teachers Association, and Soroptimist International in Carthage where she served as both president and vice president. She is a long-time a member of the Dogwood Garden Club and McCune-Brooks Hospital Auxiliary.
They both belong to the Missouri Southern State University Foundation Legacy Society and are MSSU Lionbackers.
Don was appointed Dec. 12, 2013, to the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, to a term that runs through Jan. 1, 2019. He is a member of the Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital Board, having been both president and vice president. He also is a member of the McCune-Brooks Healthcare Foundation Board, where he has served as vice president and secretary-treasurer. He also currently serves on the Missouri Southern State University Foundation Board and the Carthage Community Foundation, where he has been president. He has previously served on the Missouri Hospital Association Board, the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri, and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce.
The LaFerlas are the parents of two sons, Dr. Jeffrey LaFerla, a Doctor of Optometry in Kansas City, Mo., and Dr. Michael LaFerla, a Board Certified Orthodontist practicing in Joplin, Mo. They have three grandchildren, Peyton, Cameron and Jadyn, and are members of Grace Episcopal Church in Carthage, Mo.