$3 million gift from The Davee Foundation to support English, history scholarships at UIC

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has received $3 million from The Davee Foundation to assist high-achieving English and history undergraduate students who have prohibitive levels of financial need.

Adeline Barry Davee; Ruth Dunbar Davee
Adeline Barry Davee and Ruth Dunbar Davee. Photo credit: The Davee Foundation

The new Adeline Barry Davee and Ruth Dunbar Davee Scholarship Fund represents the academic interests of the benefactors, continues the foundation’s legacy of support at UIC, and marks its final endowment grant. The 55-year-old organization, which has donated roughly $176 million since the mid-1990s, closes down at the end of December.

With the new endowment, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has received a total of $6 million from the foundation in aid for high-achieving students with high levels of financial need since 2006. The Davee Scholarship Fund, which is the college’s largest scholarship endowment, has covered the full cost of attendance for more than 23 academically gifted students at UIC.

“The Davee Foundation’s history of generous support has provided countless opportunities for students in need of financial assistance,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. “We are deeply appreciative of this gift that will continue to open doors to a liberal arts education for our students.”

“With this endowment, talented students in English and history will be able to pursue their academic passions free of financial hardship,” said Astrida Orle Tantillo, dean of the college. “We are truly honored to have been selected to receive the foundation’s final act of generosity and to carry forward the legacy of two remarkable Davee women. It has been a tremendous partnership, and we are grateful for The Davee Foundation’s long-standing support of current and future students studying in the liberal arts and sciences.”

The Davee Foundation’s gift supports IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC, through which UIC and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will redefine the model for student experience and success.

After earning a master’s degree in history, Adeline Barry Davee’s career involved raising money for scholarships at her alma mater Flora Stone Mather College before exploring her interest in operational and historical records through archivist positions with the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the U.S. Navy. She married businessman Ken Davee shortly after World War II and joined him at his market research firm Davee, Koehnlein and Keating Company as vice president.

In 1964 the couple founded The Davee Foundation, which demonstrated a Chicago-centric philanthropic commitment in its support of a wide variety of cultural, scientific, public affairs and educational entities. Adeline remained on the foundation’s board until she passed away in 1987.

Ruth Dunbar Davee, who married Ken in 1988, graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1935 with a bachelor’s degree in English. With a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, she went on to become a professor at several universities and a journalist at the Chicago Sun-Times, where she originated the position of education editor.

As a member of The Davee Foundation’s board, she oversaw major philanthropic efforts in the Chicago area and particularly those in support of educational causes, including UIC’s mission of access and opportunity in higher education. Ruth Dunbar Davee served as president of The Davee Foundation upon the death of Ken in 1998 and led the organization until her death in 2011.

“In its final gift, The Davee Foundation wished to honor both Adeline Barry Davee and Ruth Dunbar Davee. We could think of no better way to honor them than by having a scholarship in both their names, in their respective disciplines, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. We have been very pleased by the quality of students at UIC that have received scholarships from the previously existing The Davee Scholarship Fund, and look forward to the same quality of students going forward with these new scholarships,” said James W. Dugdale Jr., president of The Davee Foundation.

In each academic year, the endowment calls for at least two Chicago area students, one from English and one from history, be awarded the scholarship, which will ensure the recipients’ cost of attendance is fully covered. The scholarship is renewable from entry through graduation for up to five years for recipients who must enter UIC with, and maintain, at least a 3.0 GPA.

The first Adeline Barry Davee and Ruth Dunbar Davee Scholars, along with the latest students to earn support via The Davee Scholarship Fund will be selected next year and celebrated during the college’s annual scholarship luncheon in March.

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