Investing in the future: Jost gift supports education, workforce

December 15, 2021

Jerry Jost and wife, Ruth Binger

Jerry Jost and wife, Ruth Binger

Jerry Jost BS ChE ’70 believes in giving back to his country. After serving in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves, he founded Jost Chemical, which has created some 350 jobs and supported countless others.

“When you create a job, that’s a living thing,” Jost said. “You’re also helping support employees and families with wages and benefits. Particularly in chemical engineering, for every job you create you’re creating five to seven jobs at other companies, companies that provide the raw materials we buy or the equipment we buy or the services we use. From my perspective, there’s no better way I can give back.”

That’s why Jost is also a longtime donor to Mizzou Engineering, including a recent $2 million gift to create the Jerry L. Jost Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering. The funding will allow the College to recruit top faculty who will prepare countless students to fill the jobs that Jost Chemical and other manufacturing companies create.

“The College of Engineering is crucial to manufacturing, so whatever we can do to impact and improve the educational experience is going to help get more highly skilled engineers out there in the workforce,” Jost said. “My hope with the endowed position is that the faculty member hired will bring something renowned to the department to give students the opportunity to explore new areas.”

Jost Chemical is an FDA-registered manufacturer of specialty chemicals. It’s also a technology company that employs chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as scientists, to fill a number of highly technical roles.

“Our engineering capabilities are phenomenal for a company of our size, and from an analytical perspective, our instrumental analysis capabilities are rather phenomenal, too,” Jost said. “We’ve had large companies come in and say they wish they had the capabilities we have. We put a lot of money and time into make ourselves top notch and a leader.”

Jost started the business in 1985 after several years in industry. He credits his experience at Mizzou and the College of Engineering for equipping him with problem solving skills and providing opportunities to grow as an individual and a leader. In addition to chemical engineering, he took business and marketing courses that taught him how to be entrepreneurial. He also participated in ROTC and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

“If it’s one thing the College of Engineering does well is teach you the methodology and appropriate way to approach problems,” he said. “Just learning to interact and work with people from different backgrounds and the totality of my experience at Mizzou played a role in helping me start a business and in my career as a whole.”

That’s why Jost has been a strong supporter of Mizzou Engineering over the years. In addition to the Jerry L. Jost Endowed Chair of Chemical Engineering, he’s also donated more than $300,000 in equipment for a chemical operations laboratory, now the Jost Chemical Lab and has served more than a decade on the Chemical Engineering Industrial Board.

Giving back, he said, is a good way for alumni to be part of educating the future workforce.

“You’re able to give your perspective of what’s needed in industry, and you also get to meet students and maybe make a good hire at some point,” Jost said. “Getting involved is rewarding. It’s fascinating to interact with students and faculty and other members of the IAB. It’s an important role, and I enjoy it.”