Thursday, March 14, 2013

$4 Million Bequeathed by Alumnus to UNO History and Philosophy Departments

The University of New Orleans celebrates on Friday nearly $4 million in planned gifts that will advance growth of the University's philosophy and history departments and fund a raft of scholarships, including two key scholarships named for UNO professors who inspired the benefactor.

"What he learned at UNO through these two great humanists was the importance of generosity, civic spirit and an obligation to share with others the gifts of learning that he received at UNO," said Susan Krantz, dean of the University's College of Liberal Arts of the alumnus who willed his entire estate to the University. "He started these endowments as a young man, within 15 years of graduation," Krantz said. "Even though his initial endowments were small, they grew to this really transformative amount by the time of his untimely death...The kernel was planted while he was at UNO."

UNO administrators, members of the UNO philosophy and history departments, leaders of the UNO Foundation and honored guests will gather at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15, in the Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center Ballroom to celebrate the gifts bequeathed by independent businessman Carl E. Muckley Sr. who died in 2004.

Muckley, a UNO distinguished alumnus known for his wit and generosity, graduated from UNO with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1975, then an M.A. in History in 1983. His love for learning led him to continue auditing courses at UNO throughout his life. Two UNO professors so inspired him that he established scholarships in their names, then left his entire estate to their departments. This week the UNO history and philosophy departments each celebrate receiving nearly $2 million in gifts.

"The $1.95 million gift received by the philosophy department has established the Donald K. Hanks Endowed Scholarship Fund in Philosophy," said associate professor and philosophy department chair Rob Stufflebeam. The Muckley gift will fund in perpetuity a scholarship established by Muckley in 1988 to honor Donald K. Hanks, UNO professor emeritus of philosophy.

Hanks, who was Muckley's mentor and a beloved teacher, will be on hand Friday to celebrate, alongside family members of other former UNO professors honored with scholarships established in their names.

At least 50 percent of the yearly endowment interest on the fund will be reserved for student scholarships and awards, said Stufflebeam. The department's immediate goal is to increase its number of philosophy majors and graduates and launch the department's online degree program ― the fund will also help to improve department resources and develop faculty, he said.

"The two departments have varying needs and will be using the money in different ways," Stufflebeam said.

Muckley's $1.95 million bequest to the UNO History Department was made in the name of the late Joseph Logsdon, who at the time of his death in 1999 had just been named the first Ethel & Herman Midlo Endowed Chair of New Orleans Studies, said Andrew Goss, associate professor of history and department chair.

In 1992, Muckley made an initial gift in Logsdon's name to support an academic scholarship for an outstanding junior history major. The current bequest builds on that gift and will include an expanded undergraduate scholarship program, as well as investments in teaching and research, Goss said.

Logsdon mentored Muckley as he completed his history master's degree thesis "A Question of Resolve: the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, August 1964," under the direction of historian Stephen Ambrose, then a professor at UNO. Goss described Logsdon as "an outstanding classroom lecturer. His teaching popularity was equaled by his scholarship and he became a role model for many of his students, both undergraduate and graduate."

"The department plans to name a professorship after Joseph Logsdon and establish a Carl E. Muckley scholarship for first-generation college students," Goss said. More than 90 percent of the bequest will be endowed, availing the funds to students and faculty of the UNO history department in perpetuity.

Goss said "the Muckley gift will allow the UNO history department to continue to build on its 55-year legacy of excellent teaching, original scholarship and public engagement."

It will also allow the history department to target high school seniors and existing undergraduates at UNO whom faculty believe will thrive in the history major, he said.

The Muckley gift "shows the continued importance and relevance of humanities education in providing the grounding for multiple careers, including that of Carl Muckley, an independent businessman," Goss said.

"The history major is built around a flexible curriculum and a variety of coursework, where students develop systematic ways for interpreting and analyzing the great data set that is the human past," he said. "Muckley's generosity shows his appreciation for an academic curriculum that teaches students to think rigorously, evaluate arguments and evidence, and write clearly and precisely."

Read more about scholarships in the philosophy department >>