University News

Boynton Establishes History Honors Thesis Award

November 29, 2011

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University History Department Chair Virginia "Ginny" Boynton has established the Richard D. and Janet L. Boynton History Honors Thesis Award endowment in honor of her parents to recognize and reward an outstanding undergraduate honors thesis each semester.

"I wanted to attach my parents' names to something permanent and something they would be pleased to be associated with," said Boynton. "They were great and loving parents, always supportive of my educational endeavors. I regard this endowment as way to both pay tribute to my parents and reward an outstanding student in our department."

Richard Boynton and Janet Lincoln met during World War II and married in 1946. They both had completed bachelor's degrees in psychology, Richard from the University of Michigan and Janet from the University of Pittsburgh. After Richard completed his M.S. in psychology at the University of Michigan, he embarked on a career of nearly four decades as an industrial psychologist for General Motors. He and Janet raised their three children, Martha, Daniel and Virginia, as well as 21 foster babies, whom they welcomed into their home and cared for as infants.

"I was very fortunate to have such remarkable individuals for parents," said Boynton. "They were devoted to my siblings and me, nurtured us, and taught us the value of education."

The Richard D. and Janet L. Boynton History Honors Thesis Award will provide a one-time $500 award each semester to the junior or senior level history major enrolled in the Centennial Honors College, whose honors thesis is selected the most outstanding that semester.

"As I thought about what I would like to do, I realized I would like to recognize upper-level students for their perseverance and accomplishment, and nothing existed specifically for history honors students," Boynton explained. "I want to recognize the extra work these students do, and encourage them to continue on their academic paths.

"I've been contributing to history scholarships and various other areas since I came here as an assistant professor in 1995," she added. "My chair at the time, Gordon Kirk, came to my office with a payroll deduction card and told me about the departmental scholarships and how they are supported. Dr. Kirk and the other former chairs have managed the history endowments very well, and I wanted to give to an area that had yet to be addressed.

"I know how lucky I was to walk into a tenure track position here upon completion of my Ph.D.," Boynton continued. "I love my job, and I am just happy to be in a position to be able to give back."

Posted By: Julie Murphy, WIU Foundation (
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