FLORENCE, S.C. – The Nellie Cooke Sparrow Chair for a Writer in Residence, the Joseph Walker Coleman Sr., Chair in Elementary Education and the Henry Booker Sparrow Chair in Economics and Economics Forecasting have been established at Francis Marion University.
The chairs were established by long-time supporters of the university, John W. Sparrow and his family of Lake City. The Writer in Residence chair was established in memory of Sparrow’s mother. The elementary education chair is a memorial to a friend of the Sparrow family who served as a superintendent in Florence School District Three and worked as a math teacher in Scranton. The chair in economics and economics forecasting was established in honor of Sparrow’s father.
Each chair will be endowed for $100,000. The purpose of the chairs is to honor current or future faculty members for their academic excellence, integrity and professionalism in their field.
“We are deeply committed to supporting the outstanding work conducted at Francis Marion,” Sammy Sparrow said. “Endowing these chairs is our way of doing what my parents have always spent time doing – supporting education. Our family is honored to support this community, which has given so much to us.”
The Writer in Residence chair will be awarded to a faculty member in the Department of English, Modern Languages and Philosophy; the elementary education chair will be awarded to a faculty member in the School of Education; and the economics and economics forecasting chair will be awarded to a faculty member in the School of Business. The awarding of the chairs may also be used as a recruiting incentive for new faculty members in the respective departments. The chairs are expected to be awarded in August 2008.
The Sparrow family, including John W. Sparrow and his sons, Sammy (FMU class of ’83 and FMU Foundation board vice-chairman of the investments committee) and J. Wesley Sparrow Jr., is dedicated to enhancing the educational and extracurricular experience of students in the Pee Dee region.
The university recently received a substantial gift that will partially fund a new baseball stadium scheduled to be completed in 2009-10. A proposal to name the baseball stadium Sparrow Stadium will be voted on at the next meeting of the FMU board of trustees.
This family demonstrated its support of FMU also in May 2003 when The Nellie Cooke Sparrow Chair in Business was established in memory of Sparrow’s mother. The purpose of the chair is to honor a current or future member of the faculty of the FMU School of Business for academic excellence, integrity and professionalism in their field.
In 1988, the Sparrow family established the Nellie Cooke Sparrow Memorial Scholarship, an award to assist deserving FMU students residing in Florence School District 3.
"The Sparrow family worked with the university to create chairs in disciplines where we have the greatest need,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “Their generosity is indicative of their love of this institution and their commitment to educate students across the Pee Dee.”
An endowed chair is a distinction awarded by the University to a scholar or teacher in recognition of past and potential original contributions to the individual's academic discipline.
These chairs symbolize a level of support for the work of an acclaimed educator, researcher or clinician. The endowed chair provides a means whereby the university may recruit and retain a nationally prominent academician, helping move an already excellent program into a position of true preeminence.
An endowed chair is established through a major philanthropic gift from a benefactor. Once established, the chair is permanent. The principal remains in a professionally managed fund, earning income that is used to attract and/or retain a leading educator or researcher to collaborate with and mentor students and faculty members.
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