From IWU Magazine, Summer 2009

‘Our Time Is Now’

A bold campaign provides the chance to begin
a new chapter in Illinois Wesleyan’s history.

President Richard F. Wilson (above) shared the vision of the campaign with faculty and staff prior to the Bloomington kick-off gala.

This spring, the University announced the most ambitious capital campaign in its history, with a goal of raising $125 million over the five-year campaign period. Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Illinois Wesleyan University opened with gala celebrations in both Bloomington and Chicago.

“As you know, great institutions are never allowed the luxury of standing still,” said University President Richard F. Wilson as he greeted guests attending the opening gala, held on campus May 13 in the Memorial Center’s Young Main Lounge. “This campaign is about helping our University transform lives. It’s as simple and powerful as that.

The Chicago gala was held in the grand ballroom of the Peninsula Hotel. Both the Chicago and campus events included screenings of videos about the campaign, which can be viewed at

According to Wilson, 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. Details on the campaign’s goals are provided in the pages that follow.

“Rarely in the history of our University,” Wilson said, “has the support of alumni and friends been more important to ensuring access for talented students and recognizing the exceptional work of our faculty.

“Now we need you to help us finish what we have begun. Young minds don’t wait and neither will we. Our time is now.”

“Many of you have already answered the call,” Wilson continued, “and I predict the biggest — and happiest — surprise of this night will be the realization that we are not here to kick-start a campaign into motion. You are catching us already mid-stride.”

During the galas, it was announced that more than $73 million had been pledged so far from alumni and friends across the country — including an endowment gift valued at $25 million, the largest ever received by Wesleyan, made by Honorary Campaign Chairs B. Charles “Chuck” Ames ’50 and Joyce “Jay” Eichhorn Ames ’49. More about the Ames’ gift and other major campaign pledges follow.

Alumni Chuck and Jay Ames make history again with $25 million gift

The momentous gift from Chuck and Jay Ames (above) was first announced at the Bloomington gala.

In giving the largest gift in Illinois Wesleyan University’s history, B. Charles “Chuck” Ames ’50 and Joyce “Jay” Eichhorn Ames ’49 were just doing what comes naturally.

“We were recently asked why we give to Illinois Wesleyan,” the couple wrote in a letter inviting alumni and friends of the University to participate with them in the Transforming Lives campaign. “It’s simple — we would not be who we are were it not for Wesleyan. So this is our way of helping pass along to future students a bit of our good fortune.”

The Ames, longtime supporters of the University, are honorary chairs of the campaign. The announcement of the couple’s endowment gift, valued at $25 million, was made by their son and current Illinois Wesleyan trustee, Richard Ames, at the kick-off celebration of the University’s $125-million campaign in May. “They are making a lead gift in the Transforming Lives campaign because, to put it simply, Illinois Wesleyan transformed their lives,” said Richard Ames.

“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 our community.”

The gift will allocate $10 million toward creating a matching fund for the faculty endowment. These funds will create new endowed professorships, which serve to honor and support outstanding faculty who contribute to the excellence of the University through teaching and scholarship. Wesleyan currently has 10 endowed professorships. The Ames gift alone will double the number of endowed positions to 20. The challenge calls for alumni and friends to increase that amount another 10 for a total of 30 endowed professorships by the end of the five-year campaign.

Illinois Wesleyan Trustee Richard Ames (above), son of Chuck and Jay Ames, announces the couple's gift at the Bloomington gala.

“I think having quality faculty attracts quality students. You’ve got to have that quality on both sides of the spectrum,” said Chuck Ames.

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 Wesleyan’s history at that time — led to construction of The Ames Library, a $26-million 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’s honor. Their contributions have also been instrumental in forming the national Illinois Wesleyan University Alumni Association.

Chuck, who holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, retired in 2007 as vice chairman of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Co. in New York, one of the world’s leading private equity investment firms. He joined the firm in 1987 after serving as chair and CEO of Reliance Electric Company, CEO of Acme Cleveland Corporation and CEO and chair of The Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company. A past recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, he continues with private investment and is on the board of directors of several smaller companies.

Jay is an art connoisseur and collector as well as a supporter of several organizations devoted to preserving the visual arts.

Chuck and Jay have sponsored underprivileged children for summer camps in the Cleveland area, and supported the Hospice of Cleveland. They currently live in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Vero Beach, Fla.

Major gifts, including $1 million for Joslin Atrium addition, announced

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

Major gifts from several of Illinois Wesleyan’s longtime “movers and shakers” were announced at the Transforming Lives galas, including a $1 million gift from Roger and Stevie Joslin of Bloomington that will fund a 2,500 square-foot glass atrium addition to the University’s Memorial Center.

The Joslin Atrium will provide meeting, reception and banquet space, with views overlooking the main quadrangle. It 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.

“We are extremely grateful to Roger and Stevie Joslin for their generosity,” said University President Richard F. Wilson. “They have been great friends of the University for many years. This gift will provide a dramatic visual addition and a much needed expansion to the Memorial Center.”

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 Wesleyan and currently serves as a member of the steering committee for the Transforming Lives campaign.

A sketch of the new Joslin Atrium.

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.

Several other gifts were announced at the kick-off galas, including a major scholarship commitment from IWU Board of Trustees President George Vinyard ’71 and his wife, Judy Shepelak, that 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.

It was also announced that John Horton ’82 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 Wesleyan graduates. In addition, Coyner Smith ’54 and his wife, Donna, have given an endowment gift that will fund the Smith Scholars Fund, which will provide annual scholarships.

Click here to learn more about the University’s Transforming Lives campaign.

Click here to read about the campaign's five major goals.

Click here to read stories about IWU's transforming power.