Ruth Ann (Stetson ’65) Ayers and Merritt Mann (’59)
More than 60 years ago, Dr. Charles Akers (’47), advisor to the Class of 1957, recommended that the seniors take the $500 they had set aside for their class gift and put it into an investment account where it would accumulate value for 10 years. After that time, the interest each year could be given as a scholarship. This idea took hold among the seniors, and adopting his recommendation, they established the first class endowed scholarship at ENC.
For many years afterwards, no one really gave further thought to the wise counsel of Dr. Akers. Class after class graduated, giving traditional remembrances to ENC in honor of their commencement—trees, bulletin boards, flagpoles, gates, decorative lighting, clocks, benches—all of which were useful and deeply appreciated. Very few stood the test of time. In fact, if asked, many alumni might not even remember what their class gave to ENC!
Then in the 1990s, a subtle stirring in the hearts and minds of alumni began to take place. Encouraged by Dr. Tom Barnard, Vice President of Advancement at the time, a handful of leaders challenged their classes to provide a more lasting legacy. By giving sacrificially and by taking advantage of corporate matching funds when available, the classes of 1944, 1959, 1964, 1965, and 1968 initiated work on class endowments. At last, that tiny seed of an idea from the Class of 1957 began to take root.
Then in 1999, just as ENC was preparing for her Centennial Celebration, a singular event propelled the concept of class scholarships to the next level. Not since that gift in 1957 had a graduating class donated a monetary gift towards a class endowment. That history was about to change!
The place: Ninety-Nine Restaurant in Quincy. The time: March of 1999. The cast of characters: two seniors from the Class of 1999 and an alumni couple, parents of one of the seniors. The conversation: “Would the Class of 1999 consider an endowed scholarship as their parting gift to their Alma Mater?” With a promise of matching funds and a letter to all the parents inviting them to financially support this step of faith, the seniors accepted the challenge, and the growth of class scholarships took a giant step forward. Every senior class since that time has been invited to take that same step.
Now, what about those decades of classes that did not have a scholarship endowment to nurture and grow? The answer was not long in coming. As the Centennial Celebration, plans were developing; a few on the committee belonged to classes that had already begun working on an endowment. They thought, “Why not invite every class to gift ENC with an endowment as part of the celebration?” Though the idea did not take root in time for the centennial, the concept continued to press upon their hearts. In early 2002, an initiative entitled Every Class a Scholarship (ECAS) was presented to the Alumni Council as a grassroots effort designed to motivate every class to establish a scholarship fund. During Homecoming of that same year, a group of committed alumni launched ECAS by visiting each of the ten reunion classes, challenging them to begin growing their own scholarship endowments.
Now in 2018, just sixteen years after the launching of ECAS, with the help of financial support from the Alumni Council, faithful alumni leadership, many class champions, and generous silent partners, every class now has an endowed scholarship!
Why does it matter?
Because the mission of ENC is alive and well.
Because young people still dream of attending ENC, where they hope to find God’s purpose for their lives.
Because those students depend on scholarships to make that dream come true.
Because these funds are an opportunity for alumni to share our conviction that the ENC experience is worth passing on to future generations.
Because since the launching of the initiative in 2002, when the value of all six existing class scholarship totaled $92,000, the current value of all funds has grown to $1,878,679.40!
The history of ECAS is still being written. Classes continue to grow their endowments, and the possibilities are limitless. As for the Class of 1957, they are now supporting two scholarships with a combined value of over $165,000. And every graduate that continues to give to a class fund is helping to write another chapter in this story!