Earlham Receives $1M in Memory of an Exceptional Teacher
February 08, 2019
Earlham College has received an anonymous gift of $1 million in memory of Robert F. Southard, a professor of History and Jewish Studies, who died in 2007.
“This gift honors the impact of extraordinary teaching and the transformative educational experience that our faculty provides,” says Interim President Avis Stewart ’74. “This is a remarkable investment in the future of this amazing College. All of us at Earlham are deeply thankful for the generosity of this donor and for all who support and nurture Earlham.”
Southard taught at Earlham from 1971-2007, covering topics ranging from Medieval Jewish History to 20th Century Europe. At various times, he served as convener of Jewish Studies and director of the Humanities Program. From 2001-06, he served as associate academic dean. At the time of his death, Southard was teaching an advanced research seminar at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
His scholarly legacy includes a book, Droysen and the Prussian School (University Presses of Kentucky, 1994) and dozens of published articles. Southard earned his B.A. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He completed post-graduate work in Jewish languages and literatures at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Southard’s wife of 38 years, Edna C. Southard, and sons, David and Jared, offered a statement of gratitude to the anonymous donor.
“I hope you know how honored and humbled Bob would be that this tribute was made to him in support of Earlham, the College he loved and valued, when Earlham needs support so much, when the humanities and the value of a liberal arts education are being questioned and are endangered everywhere, and at a time when critical thinking is so needed in our nation,” she writes. “I hope you know how happy I am, and our sons are, that you are thinking about Bob and that you have honored him so generously.”
This gift, which came from a donor-advised fund, is designated to the College’s annual fund. The gift arrived as a surprise to the College’s Institutional Advancement Office, but Vice President Kristin Champa says that this anonymous contribution is very much in keeping with what the College hears from alumni and friends of Earlham.
“Everyone understands that something very powerful happens in Earlham classrooms and labs, and alumni and friends of the College want to support that enterprise,” says Champa. “I think it is a wonderful testament to the importance of Earlham’s mission that someone would choose to anonymously honor one of our beloved professors in this way. We are so grateful to this donor for making this inspirational gift.”
This gift marks the third time in the last three years that the College has received an anonymous seven-figure gift. Champa says that the College is happy to work with donors — anonymous or named — to make sure gifts have the largest possible impact. This most recent gift to the annual fund will be put to immediate use.
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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. We rank 7th nationally by Princeton Review for Best Classroom Experience and 22nd by U.S. News and World Report for commitment to undergraduate teaching.
Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and firstname.lastname@example.org.