From IWU Magazine, Fall 2014

Up to the Challenge

A matching gift from the Ames family has led to a record number of endowed professorships and chairs.

Story by KIM HILL

 

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Richard Ames (above) introduced his parents’ faculty-endowment challenge.
In 2009, B. Charles “Chuck” Ames ’50 and Joyce “Jay” Eichhorn Ames ’49 issued a challenge to fellow alumni and friends of the University as part of their $25 million lead gift to the Transforming Lives campaign. For each new endowed faculty professorship or chair — up to 10 — the Ames Challenge would provide a matching endowment gift.

 

The result is an increase in endowed faculty chairs and professorships from 11 at the start of the campaign to 31. “I know of no other University of our size and type that has this number of endowed chairs and professorships,” Wilson said.

Endowed professorships and chairs are the highest honor bestowed upon faculty members. Endowed positions are also important to retaining and attracting top faculty at the University, according to Wilson.

The Ameses have made several historic gifts to IWU over the years, including gifts naming The Ames Library, student scholarships and the recent addition to the Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art.

The couple’s son, Richard “Dick” Ames, a member of IWU’s Board of Trustees, announced the Ames Challenge gift at the campaign’s opening gala. He noted that his parents felt strongly “about the importance of supporting outstanding faculty and attracting the next generation of great teachers.”

One alumnus who contributed to the Ames Challenge goal was Byron Tucci ’66, who is also a trustee. His gift in 2010 established an endowed professorship that is open to faculty members from any department. Endowed professorships such as Tucci’s provide a stipend to the faculty member being honored, an expense budget that can be used for that person’s teaching and scholarly research, and funding for the recipient’s department.

Professor of Hispanic Studies Carolyn Nadeau holds the Byron S. Tucci Endowed Professorship. An expert on 16th- and 17th-century Spanish literature, Nadeau and her department have so far used Tucci funds to sponsor several guest lecturers, support the annual Hispanic Studies dinner for students, fund a webinar on curricular development for all department faculty and help fund a field trip for students to view Baroque paintings at The Art Institute of Chicago.

“The financial support I have received has also  helped me professionally in a variety of ways,” Nadeau says. “As one example, it’s common a faculty member here attends one conference a year. Last year, funding from the endowed professorship made it possible to attend several conferences. I’m publishing more papers and articles, and the publications are a result of increased conference attendance.”

This increased scholarship directly impacts her teaching. “It’s exciting to share my research with the students and tell them what I’m doing,” she explains. “A lot of my scholarship coincides with the texts we’re reading, so it all just fits together.”

 

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Carolyn Nadeau is now the Byron S. Tucci Professor. 

Endowed faculty positions also benefit departments and students.


Nadeau spent two months of a summer break in Spain working on her book on the social significance of food in early modern Spanish literature. “This kind of flexibility to do more original research is what I value most,” she says, adding that the Tucci funds can directly aid students as well. Nathan Douglas ’15, traveled to Barcelona with her to conduct original research at the Biblioteca de Catalunya for Nadeau’s critical edition and translation of a 1611 cookbook written by Francisco Martínez Montiño.

 

Creating such opportunities helps IWU’s efforts to retain top faculty. “Quality faculty attracts quality students,” Chuck Ames said at the campaign’s launch.

Chuck, who holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, retired in 2007 as vice president of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in New York, a leading private equity investment firm. He previously served as chair and CEO of Reliance Electric Company, CEO of Acme Cleveland Corporation and CEO and chair of The Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company. He is a past recipient of IWU’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Jay Ames is an art connoisseur and collector as well as a supporter of several organizations devoted to preserving the visual arts.

Wilson noted his enjoyment working with Illinois Wesleyan alumni such as the Ameses and Tucci in establishing professorships. “They clearly understand the importance of recruiting and retaining the best faculty possible and also want to show their appreciation for the high quality of instruction they received while students here.”

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