Richard Ames

A $25 million gift to the University from Chuck and Jay Ames is announced by their son, Illinois Wesleyan Trustee Richard Ames.

  bullet See a message about the campaign from Chuck and Jay Ames.

Transforming Lives Campaign Announced with $125 Million Goal

May 15, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University kicked off its $125-million Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Illinois Wesleyan University with gala celebrations in both Bloomington and Chicago, and announced that more than $73 million had been pledged so far from alumni and friends across the country.

During the kickoff galas, it was announced that Honorary Campaign Chairs B. Charles "Chuck" Ames and Joyce "Jay" Eichhorn Ames made an endowment gift valued at $25 million.  The gift is the largest ever received by Illinois Wesleyan.

"We are extremely fortunate to have alumni like Chuck and Jay Ames, who believe it's important to give something back," said University President Richard F. Wilson. "The Ames gift, along with many others received thus far, is a testament to the impact the University has had on the lives of our alumni and friends and this community."

The campaign is the most ambitious in the history of Illinois Wesleyan, with a goal of raising $125 million over the five-year campaign period. Nearly 80 percent of the campaign goal will go to support student scholarships, need-based financial aid and faculty and program endowments. In addition, several new building projects will be funded.

"One of the attributes of Illinois Wesleyan University is the people who claim it as their own. Alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students – all contribute to what makes this an outstanding University. We are proud to pull together and respond to the needs of the University," said Steve Wannemacher, a 1973 alumnus, and Jean Baird, a 1980 alumna, who serve as co-chairs of the Transforming Lives campaign.

Of the $25 million gift from the Ames, $10 million is dedicated to creating 10 endowed faculty positions. The honorary chairs say this is a challenge to alumni and friends of Illinois Wesleyan to create an addition 10 endowed positions. The campus currently has 10 endowed  positions. The goal is to increase that number to 30 by the end of the five-year campaign.

"It's been a pleasure to watch the University grow over the years, and to be part of that," said Chuck Ames. "I think having quality faculty attracts quality students, and vice versa. You've got to have that quality on both sides of the spectrum."

Both Ames are graduates of Illinois Wesleyan, Jay in 1949 and Chuck in 1950. This is not the first time that the couple has made a significant commitment to Illinois Wesleyan. In 1999, they issued a challenge to match up to $9 million for all gifts earmarked for a new library and another $3 million for matching gifts to the University's annual fund. Their gifts – the largest in IWU's history at that time – led to the construction of The Ames Library, a $26-million, five-floor building opened on Jan. 9, 2002, and named in their honor. In 1998, the Ames made a $2 million scholarship commitment to the School of Art, and the University named the school The Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art in Jay Ames' honor.


Stevie and Roger Joslin acknowledge the crowd at the gala as their $1 million gift is announced.

The Bloomington kickoff event took place in the Memorial Center on campus, which will be getting a new addition as a result of a $1 million gift from Roger and Stevie Joslin of Bloomington. 

The Joslin gift will fund a 2,500 square-foot glass atrium addition that will provide meeting, reception and banquet space with views overlooking the main quadrangle. The Joslin Atrium will be connected to the Young Main Lounge, which is the Memorial Center's recently renovated ballroom and principal banquet space. The atrium's primary entry will be from a grand staircase leading up from the quad. The Memorial Center, which also houses meeting rooms and dining areas, was built in 1947 and honors the memory of Illinois Wesleyan men and women who served in World War II.

The Joslins have been active in the greater Bloomington-Normal community since 1963, serving in leadership roles in the Second Presbyterian Church, BroMenn Healthcare, Day Care Center of McLean County, Western Avenue Community Center, Mennonite College of Nursing, Bloomington Public Schools and the Republican Party.  Roger Joslin is the retired vice chairman and chief financial officer of State Farm Mutual Insurance and chairman of State Farm Fire and Casualty. He is an emeritus trustee of Illinois Wesleyan and currently serves as a member of the steering committee for the Transforming Lives campaign. Stevie is known throughout the community for her volunteer efforts, and has been the recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction's Harriett F. Rust Volunteer Service Award. The Joslins' son, James, and his wife Charlotte Enns Joslin, are 1993 graduates of Illinois Wesleyan.

Several other gifts were announced at the kickoff celebration. These included a major scholarship commitment from 1971 graduate and Illinois Wesleyan University Board of Trustees President George Vinyard and his wife Judy Shepelak. Their gift will be used to increase financial aid for deserving students. The Shirk family was also honored for their continued support of the University through their gift establishing an endowment to maintain and enhance the Shirk Athletic Center. John Horton, a 1982 Illinois Wesleyan graduate, and his wife Joann Horton, presented a lead gift to The Wesleyan Fund, which helps to provide student financial aid and supports a variety of academic and co-curricular programs. A major endowed scholarship fund was established by Herbert and Susan Getz, both of whom are 1977 Illinois Wesleyan graduates. In addition Coyner Smith, a 1954 graduate, and his wife Donna have given an endowment gift that will fund the Smith Scholars Fund, which will provide annual scholarships.

"As we talk with alumni and friends of Illinois Wesleyan, we are struck by their stories," said Baird. "In one way or another, the University transformed their lives. If they didn't see it then, they see it now. And they feel it is time to give back, time to pay it forward to the coming generations of Titans."

Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3181