$4.2 million Mote estate ensures brighter future for OU medical and engineering students

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U.S. Air Force physician Dr. Wesley R. "Bob" Mote had boundless curiosity and a passion for education that has become a legacy to generations of OU students.

The Mote estate will provide scholarships to attract and retain students in OU's College of Medicine and the Gallogly College of Engineering. Both medicine and engineering are experiencing nationwide talent shortages.
U.S. Air Force physician Dr. Wesley R. "Bob" Mote had boundless curiosity and a passion for education that has become a legacy to generations of OU students.

The Mote estate will provide scholarships to attract and retain students in OU's College of Medicine and the Gallogly College of Engineering. Both medicine and engineering are experiencing nationwide talent shortages.
A $4.2 million estate gift from longtime Tinker Air Force Base physician Dr. Wesley R. “Bob” Mote will help produce a new generation of University of Oklahoma medical and engineering graduates.

Mote’s bequest to the OU Foundation was designated to create separate, $2.1 million scholarship endowments in the OU College of Medicine and the Gallogly College of Engineering.

An unexpected gift of such generosity is “simply overwhelming,” said John Antonio, Gallogly College’s senior associate dean and the Howard and Suzanne Kauffmann Chair in Engineering.

“What we find many times is that the difference between a student being able to come to OU or being able to finish their degree could be as little as a $1,000 scholarship. It’s critical,” Antonio said.

“The lack of scholarship support is a reason why otherwise qualified students sometimes choose not to attend medical school,” agreed Dr. Chris Candler, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the OU College of Medicine.

“Scholarships also enhance our ability to keep our very best students in the state and attract highly qualified, non-resident students to Oklahoma,” he said. “Data shows students who attend OU and pursue a residency here have a high likelihood of practicing medicine in Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma is facing a critical shortage of medical professionals. The Oklahoma Health Workforce Data Book states that 70 of the state’s 77 counties are considered medically underserved. Candler added that the average OU medical student graduates with $170,000 in debt – a fact that can be helped greatly by scholarship endowments.

Likewise, Antonio said, the entire United States is experiencing a shortage of engineering talent.
“Gallogly College has established five-year workforce development and educational goals to graduate 1,250 engineering students per year,” he said, including 100 doctoral and 300 master’s degree students. Half of the Mote engineering gift will be used for undergraduate scholarships, while the remainder will provide fellowships and awards for outstanding graduate students.

“To achieve OU’s research goals, we must attract graduate students, and the field is very competitive,” Antonio said. “The Mote endowment is an important step in that direction.”

Mote, an Ardmore native, earned his medical degree from OU in 1958 and an OU master’s of public health in 1972. He became a U.S. Air Force physician and was stationed both internationally and stateside before accepting a medical staff position at Tinker Air Force Base. There, he served for 39 years and rose to the position of chief of occupational medicine.

“He was very analytical and highly intelligent. He couldn’t get enough of learning and was fascinated with everything,” said Mote’s great-nephew and namesake, Wes Mote.

Wes Mote said his uncle lived simply. “He had a 900-square-foot house most of his adult life and would drive a car until the wheels fell off. He didn’t aspire to own a lot of property or belongings; what he cared about was life experiences.”

Mote was an outdoorsman who traveled broadly and invited family along for multi-generational fishing trips to New Mexico. But he extended his generosity far beyond family.

“He cared a lot about people and would help anybody at the drop of a hat,” Wes Mote said, relating a story about neighbors whose dog became critically ill. The neighbors could not afford treatment and were faced with euthanizing their pet.

“He stopped by the vet’s office without letting them know and paid the bill,” Wes Mote said. “He helped people without any desire for recognition. To me, that’s the most respectable thing you can do.”