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Garry '64 & Janet (Elder) '63 Ernst

Garry '64 & Janet (Elder) '63 Ernst

2011 Recipients of the EIU Foundation Outstanding Philanthropists Award

Since Janet and Garry had met at EIU and finally married 41 years later, they have decided to name Eastern Illinois University as a major beneficiary in their wills for the support and enhancement of the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences and for the Dr. Garry E. Ernst and Janet E. Ernst Endowment, providing scholarships for either first-generation college students or for students who plan to pursue a career as school speech-language-hearing pathologists.

Janet grew up in the small, rural community of Sullivan, IL, where continuing her education was never a question. Her father, brother, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law graduated from EIU. So attending EIU was a given that she happily accepted. Before entering college, she knew she wanted to major in Speech Correction, as it was called then.

After graduation in 1963, she went on to teach in a suburb of Chicago, eventually moving to Michigan and later receiving a Master's Degree from Michigan State University in Speech Pathology in 1973. Returning to Illinois in 1976, she continued teaching until she retired in 2004.

Garry also came from a rural area southwest of Effingham, IL, with a grain-livestock farm background. His mother ('31), sister ('56), and brother ('60) had all attended Eastern, so EIU was his only choice. Science was his interest and Chemistry was the glamour subject at that time. After graduating with a BS in Chemistry he worked with Texaco Oil for several years and was a medic in the military.

Influenced by many factors, his interest turned to Veterinary Medicine. In 1973, he graduated from the University of Illinois College Of Vet Med and saw opportunity in Panama City, FL for a small animal med-surg practice. After a successful 30 years, he sold his practice to an associate and sold several real estate projects. With retirement, he returned to Illinois, married his college sweetheart, and all thanks to EIU.

The Eastern Experience

Eastern provided the kind of atmosphere that promoted and encouraged individuals to grow not only academically but personally as well. The classes were small yet seemed to always be where our interests lie. Many opportunities were available to pursue such as extra-curricular activities that enhanced a well-rounded individual.

The Inspiration Behind the Gift

We were looking for a place where our bequest would be well managed, used according to our wishes, and would benefit programs and students in the future.

The "Ease" of Making the Gift

Making this gifting commitment was a "no-brainer". Eastern gave us a solid foundation on which to build successful and enjoyable careers. It was a good feeling to give back to the institution that made it all possible.

The Importance of Others Leaving a Legacy

A college education has become a financial challenge for students, parents, and the University in general. Please consider giving to Eastern. Anything that an alum can do to provide whatever support possible will look good on your "life resume". It doesn't have to a be a large amount or hundreds of acres but the pleasure you get from knowing someone along the way will benefit from your generosity is a wonderful feeling.


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