When Missouri State University held the groundbreaking ceremony for the David D. Glass Hall expansion in 2015, the name Robert Gourley became permanently linked with the College of Business. A significant gift from him, his wife Marlese and their family made the 37,000 square foot Robert Gourley Student Success Center addition possible.
Missouri State will honor the Gourleys, longtime friends and supporters of the university, with the Bronze Bear award at a fall 2020 commencement ceremony.
“Our College of Business is one of the largest in the Midwest. It offers a top-accredited education and has extensive connections to the business community and corporate world,” said President Clif Smart. “Thanks to Robert and Marlese Gourley, our facilities now reflect that. In presenting this Bronze Bear to the Gourleys, we highlight their dedication to improving the student experience at Missouri State.”
Although born in Detroit, Michigan, Robert Gourley spent his formative years in Mountain Grove, Missouri. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business organization and management from Missouri State in 1960.
Marlese, a retired educator, is an alumna of the University of Missouri.
After enlisting and serving in the U.S. Army, Gourley went on to a successful career in sales and entrepreneurship. He and Marlese later moved into ownership of several different businesses, including a beverage distributorship, photo-developing and camera stores, and a startup bank in Kansas City.
Through the years, they’ve often given anonymously to support higher education initiatives, athletics and scholarships.