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Robert Orr

Sharon Hamilton

Last modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Teaching excellence endowment at IU receives surprise gifts

Indiana University has established an endowment to promote teaching excellence, and it received a surprise $20,000 in spur-of-the-moment pledges when it was announced at a faculty gathering.

The Marian Mack Endowment for Scholarship and Teaching Excellence is described by officials as a unique partnership among the university faculty, trustees and community. It was established by P.A. Mack, an IU trustee from 1992 to 1998, a member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and a long-time supporter of teaching excellence at IU. The fund was named after Mack's late wife.

Sharon Hamilton, co-director of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) with Robert Orr, an IUPUI professor of computer technology, said Mack and his wife were actively and enthusiastically involved in colloquium activities for several years. "Their commitment to teaching and learning is extraordinary," said Hamilton, Chancellor's Professor of English at IUPUI and director of the Office of Campus Writing.

Mack was named an honorary FACET member in 1997 and later received the first P.A. Mack Award for Distinguished Service to Teaching. "In higher education it is exceptional for a trustee to be so honored," Orr said, "but in the case of P.A. it is most deserving because FACET would not have the success it has achieved without his unwavering support."

When creation of the Mack Endowment was announced at the annual FACET retreat in May, IU Southeast Professor of Fine Arts Susan Moffett and IUPUI Professor of Chemistry David Malik jumped to their feet and pledged $1,000 each to the endowment. They were immediately followed by several others who pledged from $500 to $1,000. By the end of the meeting, some $20,000 had been pledged from 35 members. "We were startled by such an unplanned outpouring of support for this project," said Hamilton.

The endowment for the Mack Center for Inquiry on Teaching and Learning will be administered by FACET through the IU Foundation. Funds generated by the endowment, with an initial capitalization of $25,000, will be used to advance teaching and learning through activities of exceptional merit. Donations will be matched by the IU Foundation. Community support is expected to be pursued, with an initial gift from former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh leading the way.

Plans are now under way for a committee to establish a charter for the center, with one FACET member from each of the eight IU campuses serving on the committee. They will be responsible for developing the center's charter, its operating principles, and criteria for selection of subsequent Mack Center fellows. Initial plans call for each charter fellow to receive a $1,000 stipend for their effort.

FACET was established in 1989 to promote and sustain teaching excellence and now has some 350 members from throughout the statewide IU system. Officials said it is the only organization of its kind in American higher education that recognizes teaching excellence at all academic levels, with membership not restricted to just senior and/or tenured faculty. FACET activities, such as teaching colloquia, workshops and institutes, were greatly expanded by IU President Myles Brand in 2000, when he provided an ongoing base budget for FACET. Brand also has supported the matching fund concept for the Mack Endowment.

For more information on the Mack Endowment or FACET, contact Hamilton at 317-278-1846, or Orr at 317-274-9707, The FACET web site is at