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Western Illinois University History Professor Emeritus Dave Egler and his wife, Sally.
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David E. Egler Study Abroad Scholarship Established

June 8, 2018


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MACOMB, IL - - Author Mark Twain once penned, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

Western Illinois University History Professor Emeritus Dave Egler and his wife, Sally, are no strangers to travel, even going as far as establishing residences in a number of places around the world. While they reside in Macomb currently, they called Colorado, Arizona and even Japan home at one point in their lives. Knowing how important travel can be not only to one's life but to one's education, they have decided to help future WIU students travel abroad.

Thanks to a planned gift, the Eglers have established the David G. Egler Study Abroad Scholarship in the WIU Department of History. It was David who first studied outside of the U.S., which he says was critical to his educational experience, so establishing this scholarship was a natural fit for the couple.

"The fact that we have lived twice in Japan for two years each time presented us with a life-enriching set of experiences that I think can't be duplicated except by living outside of your native culture. Studying abroad also gives you a look at your own country and culture in a different perspective, and that helps you see both its advantages and weaknesses in a much different way. It was of such value to us that I think we felt that it was important that students should have some opportunity that would allow them to have the same new perspectives," shared Sally.

Future study abroad scholarships will be available to history majors with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants will have to be U.S. citizens and demonstrate financial need. These future awards will assist students in short, faculty-led study abroad trips through the history department. The Eglers say these study abroad opportunities will help students in a variety of ways.

"The benefits of studying abroad include the acquisition of foreign languages where you have to actually use it; it puts you in the minds of others in another society, which is a breakthrough you simply can't get from reading or academic study, and you learn respect for others. It comes in the atmosphere … you just have to be there and be there for some time in order to have that seep in," shared Dave.

Both Dave and Sally received financial help during their undergraduate studies. Each received full tuition scholarships, Sally from Northwestern and Dave from the University of Chicago. Dave also received a Fulbright Fellowship during his studies.

"I feel an obligation to do for others as much as I can. We feel we have been privileged in many ways," shared the Eglers.

That is why they want to help future students with their academics, which they feel are enhanced when a student can study abroad. Sally hopes these types of study abroad opportunities will alleviate the sense of "them and us" that some Americans have.

"When you live in a foreign culture or a culture not your own, you have an opportunity to see how human everybody is. They may speak a different language. They may have different customs. They may eat some different foods, but the basic human qualities, like the importance of family and friends and generosity to those that are around you and respect for elders … it's important to see that commonality," Sally said.

The Eglers hope these awards will open the world up for future WIU students, particularly history majors since Dave spent his career in Western's History Department. The Eglers moved to Macomb in 1972 so he could take a job as an assistant professor in the history department. Their plan was to only stay here for two years, but the Eglers formed friendships and made deep connections. Before they knew it, 33 years had flown by and Dave retired from Western Illinois University in 2005. Sally was also an educator, serving as a speech and English teacher, as well as the debate coach at Macomb High School (MHS) for 20 years. After retiring from MHS, she taught courses at WIU for two years before fully retiring. Having spent their entire lives in education, the Eglers know how important academics are and believe those are only enhanced when one can study and immerse them self in a foreign country.

"While you are obtaining knowledge, you are also obtaining something deeper which is that problem solving ability you can bring to any situation … try to fix your car, fix your faucet, as well as in an academic environment. Studying abroad provides a well-rounded experience," shared Dave.

Sally added, "We went to school when the emphasis on going to college was to become an educated person. It wasn't to get a job; it wasn't to prepare you for a career. It was to become a well-rounded, well-developed person, and I think that still is our interest. It might prepare students for a career as they might develop an interest in international business or something like that, but that isn't what either of us see as the most important aspect. It's to become a better person and bring that back home."

"We are thankful that David and Sally Egler have named the Western Illinois University Foundation as the beneficiary of a planned gift. Having taught Asian History while at Western, David and his wife, Sally, recognize the benefits of a Study Abroad program," shared Brad Bainter, vice president for Advancement and Public Services. "The University has always benefited from having connections with foreign areas, particularly foreign students, and this scholarship will enhance that. Once the endowment is fully funded, this will help a number of WIU students in perpetuity."

"The University was home to us for many years. We came in 1972, and it's been the best possible community. My work experience, particularly in the WIU History Department, was close to ideal. It was a very close-knit department, very collegial and I think it was my lucky day when I came here," concluded Dave.

Posted By: Amanda Shoemaker, WIU Foundation & Development (AJ-Shoemaker@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations