By Patricia O’Dell
“My passion for physics began when I was in high school,” says John Shaw (MS ’76.) “I’d always had an interest in science but when I took physics I knew – this is for me.”
Shaw received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from UMKC before going on to Purdue to earn his doctorate. To ensure that future students with the same passion would be able to pursue their interests and education, he has recently endowed a scholarship in physics.
“Physics is a combination of science and math,” Shaw says. “It’s a great contrast with biology. Physics began as a very simple problem – to predict the movement of the planets – and evolved into the study of the motion of anything.”
With similar singular focus, Shaw dedicated his career to physics. He taught at Northwest Missouri State University for 28 years before retiring from teaching this year. As a professor he recognizes the importance of scholarships.
“The need for scholarship assistance is much greater than when I was in school,” he says. “It’s much more difficult for students to cover the cost of education now.”
For a discipline that prepares students for careers in research and is a critical component of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries, encouraging physics scholars is not solely an academic pursuit.
“We are extremely appreciative of Dr. John Shaw’s recent donation to establish an endowed scholarship in physics,” says College of Arts and Sciences Dean Wayne Vaught. “Dr. Shaw is very well-attuned to the mission and needs of UMKC. He understands that it is vital for the university to recruit more students in the STEM fields, and being able to offer scholarships to hardworking, deserving students will help us achieve this goal.”