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Transformational Experience

Meinershagen provides funds to change lives

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019

Bob Meinershagen, ba ’63, had a lot of trust in faculty members while a student at Washburn, and his relationship with the biology department today is no different.

Robert Meinershagen“What I remember about my education at Washburn, and especially that department, is that the professors had great teaching skills and profound knowledge of biology,” he said. “It stimulated my interest.”

It’s because of this trust that he and his wife established the Robert E. and Helen L. Meinershagen Excellence in Biology Fund and they continue to support the fund every year with a generous gift.

“I wanted to be sure there was something assertive that funds were directed to biology and the department and also giving the department more license to decide on how best to benefit the department,” he said.

After working a few years after graduation, he started Columbia Diagnostics in suburban Washington, D.C., which served as a distributor of medical laboratory products, specifically pathology products, and sold them mainly to hospital laboratories.

While the business had a lot of competitors, Columbia Diagnostics thrived because they made sure to hire the right people.

“It really was a propitious decision to make because there were some large national competitors, but we carved a niche by hiring medical technology people who were professional salespeople – they had application-level knowledge and demonstrated them to our customers,” he said.

Just as he did, Bob is excited for the variety of pursuits people can take now with a biology degree. When he was a student, he said most people had their sights set on going to medical school, but he quickly found out he was better at the business side and his curriculum was still applicable.

“For anyone, a college education is a transformative step to take, and indeed it was a step for me when I went to Washburn,” he said. “We give because we want to do our part to ensure Washburn has optimal resources to continue to provide the quality of education.”

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