A matching gift from the Ames family has led to a record number of endowed professorships
Story by KIM HILL
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
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.”
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
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
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.”