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President Jack Thomas and History Professor Emeritus Gordon Kirk
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Kirk History Scholarship

October 31, 2012

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University American History Professor Emeritus Dr. Gordon Kirk has established a $2,000 four-year scholarship for incoming history majors enrolled in the Centennial Honors College.

"I want to encourage students to see the importance of working hard to achieve an education, then putting those skills and knowledge to use for the good of humanity," Kirk said.

The Gordon Kirk Honors History Scholarship is designed for new students meeting the required ACT score (or grade point average) and class rank. The $500 annual scholarship will be renewable for up to three years, to assist history majors in the Honors Program during their time at Western.

"Western was very good to me; I enjoyed it and the wonderful people I worked with," said Kirk. "I was fortunate to be able to do lots of different things. I was a professor and department chair, served on the Faculty Senate and the faculty union, and was assistant provost," he added.

Kirk was also one of the most influential figures in the history of Western's Honors Program (now called Centennial Honors College), serving as its first director.

"I think Western does well with high achieving students," said Kirk, "and I would like to help with that."

History Professor Virginia "Ginny" Boynton recently referred to Dr. Kirk's creation of a culture of supporting scholarships within the department when she established a History Honors Thesis Award.

In fact, as Kirk pointed out, there are three people associated with Western who are all graduates of Detroit, MI public schools, earned Ph.D.'s in history and have endowed student support funds: Gordon Kirk, Ginny Boynton and Gil Belles.

"I am proud of the educational opportunities Western provides, and I still have a strong belief in, and commitment to, helping our youth and making their lives more meaningful," he added. "This is how I am choosing to honor Western and my own commitment."

Kirk was on campus Oct. 30 to sign his $50,000 endowment agreement.

"We are grateful to Dr. Kirk for his generosity and vision," said Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter. "As a department chair, he established an expectation for faculty to support department scholarships, setting the example with his own giving. Now in his retirement he is endowing his own scholarship. Gordon has, and will continue to, make a difference on this campus."

Posted By: Julie Murphy, WIU Foundation (
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