New foundation celebrates 174-year legacy of MacMurray College
September 9, 2020
A small group of MacMurray College alumni and supporters working to ensure its legacy has announced the formation of the MacMurray Foundation & Alumni Association.
After the MacMurray Board of Trustees voted in March to close the college at the end of the 2020 spring semester in the wake of declining enrollments and unsustainable competitive costs, MacMurray alumni stepped up their efforts to strengthen the "MacFam" bond, the term describing the family-like connection of the more than 10,000 alumni and former faculty and staff of MacMurray College.
Recently incorporated as a nonprofit by the State of Illinois, the MacMurray Foundation & Alumni Association has launched its virtual home at www.MacAlumFoundation.org. The new foundation will focus on sponsoring ongoing alumni activities, providing student scholarships, and supporting Jacksonville museums and organizations that seek to provide public access to MacMurray College artifacts and archives. The Foundation also has applied to the Internal Revenue Service for formal designation as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
"As a former president of the college once remarked, 'MacMurray is not a collection of buildings and grounds. MacMurray is its people,'" said David Ekin, foundation chair and a 1977 MacMurray graduate. "We hope this new foundation will continue to bring MacMurray alumni, faculty and staff to Jacksonville to celebrate MacMurray's living history – not just its past."
Ekin explained the Foundation resulted from the recommendations of a special task force set up by the MacMurray College Board of Trustees. Comprised of two trustees, two lifetime trustees, and two alumni board members, the task force presented options to continue the legacy and heritage of the College.
MacMurray's Board of Trustees has formally transferred alumni lists, memorabilia, and select archives as it prepares to auction the 60-acre campus and the contents of its buildings.
The current pandemic has cast a shadow over some initial event plans. The annual homecoming in Jacksonville, originally planned for the weekend of October 10, has been postponed to June 2021 because of COVID-19 group size restrictions.
Among its first tasks, the Foundation has been working with the Jacksonville Area Museum and its chairman, David Blanchette, a 1982 MacMurray alumnus, to display and conserve college artifacts in the City of Jacksonville's new museum. "A sneak peek of the museum will be offered October 10 and will provide an advance preview of 'MacMurray Hall,' an area inside the Museum that will be dedicated to displaying items from the college," Blanchette said. The museum won't fully open to the public until mid-2021, and it's anticipated that exhibits of MacMurray photographs, mementos and artifacts will be rotated frequently, he said.
"It is imperative that these resources be preserved so that alumni, researchers, faculty and families can access them," Ekin noted.
Providing various student scholarships will be an important focus of fundraising, according to Ekin. This may include scholarships to students interested in the former college's strong program areas of deaf education, education, social work and nursing, but also legacy scholarships (for descendants of MacMurray alumni), and first-generation college students.
MacMurray alumni, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit the new website at MacAlumFoundation.org to volunteer as well as make an initial donation in support of the Foundation's mission and goals.
About the MacMurray Foundation & Alumni Association:
Established in May 2020, the MacMurray Foundation and Alumni Association was formally incorporated as an Illinois non-profit organization to preserve the legacy of MacMurray College for future generations. It has registered with the Illinois Attorney General's Office as a non-profit organization eligible to receive donations and has formally requested IRS designation as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
About MacMurray College:
MacMurray College was an independent, four-year college with a strong liberal arts tradition located in Jacksonville, about 30 miles west of Springfield. Founded in 1846 by Methodist clergy as the Illinois Conference Female Academy, MacMurray College was one of the oldest institutions of higher education originally for women in the United States and one of the oldest private liberal arts colleges in the State of Illinois prior to its formal closure in August 2020.
c/o MacMurray College
MacMurray Foundation and Alumni Association
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