Asbury Alum Invests in Students Through Major Gifts

Asbury University alumna Jeanine Leist ’69 McDowell supports Asbury through an endowed scholarship, farm equipment and a substantial gift through her estate.

WILMORE, Ky. — From her childhood through her college years at Asbury University, Jeanine Leist ’69 McDowell had no shortage of good examples — people whose generosity overflowed from love.  

She learned generosity from her father, Oakley Leist ’37, who had attended Asbury for a time, but finished his degree closer to home so he could help keep the family farm afloat. She learned it from her mother, Inez Leist, who invested in children’s lives as a music teacher and served as a church organist and pianist. She learned it from her Asbury professors, who interacted with students not only as educators, but also as mentors and friends. 

Today, McDowell is living out those lessons — and honoring the legacy of those who came before her — by supporting a new generation of students at Asbury. In recent months, McDowell has made an outstanding investment in Asbury through multiple philanthropic gifts, including an endowed scholarship, equipment for the Equine Center and a substantial gift through her estate.  

“God has given me the talents, ability and health to go out, work hard and accumulate, so I wanted to invest the fruits of my labor into a university that shares the same vision and calling that I have,” McDowell said. “That is the real force that drives me — investing in the lives of these young people who will go out and make a difference for the Kingdom."

McDowell graduated from Asbury with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for nearly 10 years before transitioning to a career in real estate. She’s now been a realtor for more than 30 years, but she still sees herself as an educator, helping people realize their dreams of owning a home.  

McDowell’s gifts to Asbury align closely with her interests and passions. Honoring her parents’ legacy, she plans to endow a student scholarship in their name. By endowing a scholarship, McDowell has made an investment that will continue to bless students for generations to come.

“My parents left a legacy for me in the time and effort they showed raising me with Biblical values and principles,” McDowell said. “I hope that legacy they left me will be lived out through the students who receive the benefits of this endowed scholarship that I am creating in their memory.”

McDowell has also invested in students by donating equipment to Asbury’s Equine Center. A life-long horse lover, McDowell keeps horses on the same farm her father worked to save during WWII. With personal knowledge of the hard work involved in cleaning stalls, McDowell gave the Equine Center a much-needed manure spreader that will save Asbury students many hours of labor. 

In addition to helping Asbury meet current needs, McDowell has also invested in the long-term health of the University through an estate gift. By investing in Asbury’s future, McDowell is giving the gift of Asbury to a new generation.  

“If Asbury is to stay on the cutting edge for future programs and development, in technology and other areas of advancement, they need to know they have the resources available to them to expand and move forward for the future generations coming in,” McDowell said. “It’s important for those of us who have benefitted from attending the University to step alongside her, and commit to assisting her with those long-term goals.”

As McDowell looks back to her time as a student at Asbury, she’s grateful for a solid foundation of academics and faith that prepared her to honor God with her life and career. Now, as a donor, McDowell wants to invest in a place that profoundly shaped her life.  

“The professors and their influence, the music, the course of study — everything was focused on Biblical truth, and Asbury has never wavered from that,” McDowell said. “As I attended there, the Lord really spoke to me through those areas and impacted me very deeply. Asbury University was a place that changed my life.”

 

To learn more about "Ignited:The Campaign for Asbury University," visit: ignited.asbury.edu.

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