History professor leaves lasting gift
BY STEPHANIE BROOKHART-BEEDLE | ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
The history department at Eastern Oregon University is comprised of devoted faculty, gifted with the panache to make accounts of times gone by meaningful and relevant to society today. While each has his or her own unique approach, students will remember a certain professor as a vibrant educator who brought history to life.
This spring, Greg Monahan, now professor emeritus, closed the final chapter on a career that spanned 26 years, all of which he spent at Eastern. While he is moving on from a university and department that are sad to see him go, this isn’t the end of Monahan’s story.
Upon his retirement, the distinguished professor put an extra shine to his legacy; the crowning jewel of a $30,000 endowed scholarship.
“I wanted to leave behind a gift to the university,” Monahan said. “It was extraordinarily kind to me, gave me a marvelous career, supported my research and let me teach pretty well whatever I wanted and how I wanted.”
The Greg Monahan History Scholarship will bring strength to the department and is dedicated to providing scholarships for second-year students. Faculty members Rebecca Hartman, Ryan Dearinger and Nicole Howard will select one student per year based on an aptitude for history, and the award will serve as incentive for the student to engage in further courses.
Hartman said the department is happy to be able to offer students this support, however, the meaning of the scholarship is deeper.
“Greg’s endowment reflects his heartfelt devotion to EOU,” she said. “It also embodies his genuine affection for his students over the years. Very simply, Greg loves history, loves teaching history, and this scholarship is his way of continuing to be a supportive presence in the lives of EOU students.”
Noting ongoing growth in the history program, Monahan also realized a need for discipline-specific scholarships.
“Public money is dwindling by the year, and we are putting students further and further into debt,” Monahan said. “I find it vital for private individuals who believe in the power of higher education to put their money where their beliefs are.”
Bob Davies, EOU president, said that he is grateful, but not necessarily surprised by Monahan’s generous gift.
“Greg has always gone above and beyond the call of duty as a professor,” Davies said. “I think it is wonderful that he understands the need to support students. He is an outstanding example of the fine caliber of faculty we have here at Eastern.”
Katy Barnett, a 2009 history graduate and former Associated Students of EOU president, is a product of Monahan’s legacy. Barnett, who went on to graduate from George Washington University with a master’s degree in political management in 2011, said Monahan both literally and figuratively made history real to her.
“Many students will fondly remember the days when he came to class dressed as a Russian factory worker, a French Bastille guard or an SS Officer from Nazi Germany,” Barnett said. “He taught me that history is not one-dimensional and neither is the profession of history. Dr. Monahan’s scholarship will help EOU students who want to explore not only history, but its possibilities.”
While attaining higher education is a Monahan family trait, so is the desire to continue to help students. The new endowment will take its place beside the Rita Short Monahan Scholarship that he started in memory of his late wife. Rita was a professor in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing program at EOU. The fund helps OHSU students pay for the N-CLEX exam and six students received assistance this year.
With this next phase in life comes a new address for Monahan, who recently moved to Portland to be closer to family.
“Portland has everything I want right now with my kids and three grandsons, and it will be nice to live in a city with an airport,” Monahan said. “I will miss La Grande, especially the people, and I will also miss being able to get anywhere in town within eight minutes!”
Endowments provide ongoing support for current and future students, specific programs or projects. For scholarships like Monahan’s, each year a portion of the earnings are paid out, while the principal amount is kept for future growth. In order to realize the greatest gains, his $30,000 initial contribution will be commingled with other Foundation endowments and investments.
Whether left as a gift to the university, created to honor the memory of a loved one or intended to generate new opportunities for students who might otherwise be left behind, an endowment will touch many lives and can last into perpetuity.
To find out more about establishing an endowed scholarship, contact the EOU Foundation at 541-962-3740 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.