In December 2007, Clay Mering established a $25,000 endowment fund to the Black Studies Program at the University of Missouri to support the research and study of slavery and its ramifications. Mering is the great-great grandson of the “Father of the University of Missouri,” James S. Rollins, who was given that title for his many contributions to the college. James Rollins lived in the Civil War era, and although known for his generosity and support to his community, he was also owner of 34 slaves. Mering created the endowment fund as a way to show regret for his family’s role in slavery. He established “The James S. Rollins Slavery Atonement Endowment” at the University of Missouri in honor of James S. Rollin’s strong advocacy and life-long involvement there. Rollins helped open the school, donated land for the original campus, and served on the Board of Curators for 18 years. Clay Mering was born to John and Ellen Mering, who both graduated from the University of Missouri.