An Endowment Grows at Manchester


Class gifts—typically a tree planted on the North Manchester campus—are rooted in University tradition. This year, however, the Class of ’66 branched out a bit.

The group that celebrated its 50th anniversary last month at Alumni Days is establishing an endowment fund that will enable MU’s president to support unexpected needs and opportunities that fall outside the University’s regular budget. 

The class has raised $50,000 to establish “Spirit of Abundance—the President’s Fund for Excellence.” Earnings from the endowment will be available to the president each year to help students with opportunities they could not otherwise afford, celebrate meaningful events on campus, or support faculty in research or professional development, to name a few examples.

“They’ve been such a great class to work with,” says Elena Bohlander ’14, assistant director of The Manchester Fund, who worked with the Class of ’66 reunion planning committee. 

The idea started with Rich Ringeisen ’66, chancellor emeritus of the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), who served on the reunion committee with his wife Carolyn (Byrer), John Bame, John Coldren, Harry Hochstetler, Bob Knechel, Neil Meeks, and Jerry and Janice (Hess) Warstler, all ’66 graduates.

At UIS, Ringeisen had access to a special “Chancellor’s Fund” which he could use at his discretion to cover unforeseen needs. “Rich spoke so passionately about the difference that fund made in his ability to serve the academic community he led,” said Knechel. “Our planning committee became excited about a similar fund at Manchester.”

Committee members made gifts of their own to the fund then asked their classmates to support the effort. “They were so excited,” says Bohlander of the committee. “They just ran with it.” In all, 50 members of the Class of ’66 attended Alumni Days in late May, along with graduates from other classes celebrating reunions or just meeting up with longtime college friends. 

And while Class of ’66 alumni started something new, they dig tradition, too. During Alumni Days, they planted sequoia trees on the east side of the Jo Young Switzer Center. 

Melinda Lantz ’81