The Junction
Published in

The Junction

Conversation with My Wife (102)

A: Three streets at Alice Lloyd College. Q: What are Integrity, Purpose, and Action?

Actual street signs at Alice lloyd College. Photo by author, 2010.

ME: I’m going to let you do the talking on this one, Debster.

DEB: Okay.

We were on our way to meet Allison, the Director of College Relations for Alice Lloyd College (ALC), for dinner, because we’d given ALC a large (for us) amount of money and were about to give them a bit more.

ALC is located in rural Kentucky. I never went there; Deb never went there. So how did we end up being (small scale) benefactors?

We met Allison at the restaurant (“Look for someone at the door who is very tall and blonde”), did introductions (Allison is indeed rather tall, and has a soft Southern accent that gets stronger when she gets excited), and ordered our meals.

ALLISON: So what got you involved with Alice Lloyd?

DEB: My sister, Nanci, signed up for a visiting program while she was at [a college in western Pennsylvania], for one term. This would have been in the early 70s—

ALLISON: When it was still a two-year college?

DEB: Yep! So my entire family drove down to Kentucky. The buildings were, um, not very impressive from the outside. We carried Nanci’s stuff up to her dorm room, and the room hadn’t been used all summer and was just covered with dead bugs. The furniture was minimal. Mom helped Nanci sweep out all the bugs, and Dad told her just before we left that if she changed her mind, we were just a phone call away—but give it a chance, first. Then, as we started off for the long drive home, my brother piped up in back, “You sure wouldn’t find ME leaving a daughter of mine in a place like that!”

ALLISON: Oh dear! Did she call for you to come get her?

DEB: Actually, when we came back at the end of the term to bring her home, Nanci said she had something important to tell us. Dad said, “Well, I think we have a few hours to talk, so there’ll be time.” And on the way home Nanci said she wanted to come back to Alice Lloyd next term to finish out the year. She’d made great friends there—she keeps in touch with one, who still lives near Alice Lloyd—and she felt more at home at that small college than she did in [her other one]. So she went back!

I never even heard of ALC until I joined Deb’s family. When Nanci went to visit for her 30th reunion, Deb and I went along. I was expecting—based on the stories I’d heard—some rustic wreck of a campus.

Founders Shack, Alice Lloyd College. Source: http://hcap.artstor.org/cgi-bin/library

Instead we were on a modern, well-maintained campus on either side of a main road (formerly THE main road, but a state road has been built to bypass it) with steep hills on either side.

Main street of Alice Lloyd College. The booths and banner are for Homecoming 2010. Photo by author.

Although the Founders Shack is still there, it’s a historical site now. Dorms and academic buildings are of a quality you’d find on almost any US college.

Buildings on the campus of Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, KY, a few years ago. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33676424 by Nyttend — Own work, Public Domain.

I was impressed. They have programs to help kids from Appalachia go to college—the vast majority for the first time in their families—and graduate in four years* without a load of debt. The campus isn’t near any major town or city, and it’s a dry county, so this is not a party school.

What women’s dorms look like today (well, in 2010, anyway). Photo by author.

DEB: So my parents got involved with Alice Lloyd, and stayed that way after Nanci left. They made it a point to contribute to the school every year that they could afford to. So when my mom passed away, a few years after my dad, it seemed like it was only fitting to do something in their memory.

I make donations to my alma mater, the US Naval Academy, but I have classmates who are millionaires — our entire net worth doesn’t equal what my class donates in a year. Deb works at a college here in Pennsylvania, but even though it’s a state-sponsored school it still burns through a load of cash, and small donations are appreciated but not terribly useful. ALC, on the other hand, is small and low-budget. A little bit of cash — comparatively speaking — goes a long way. Deb researched, and found that we could set up a named scholarship at ALC with $10,000.

So we started with the money left from Mom’s estate, added some from our cash funds, threw in our occasional bonuses or similar “unplanned” windfalls, and in a few years had enough to establish the Bob and Rose Tanguy Endowment Fund. We didn’t attach any constraints, so it will be used for whatever students need some extra bucks to make it through.

The next thing we knew, we were getting calls from ALC asking when someone from college relations could meet with us when they were in town. Ego boost! We were getting treated like big-time donors — albeit big-time donors who paid for dinner. (What, we send Allison home with paperwork she has to submit? And then who pays for that? Cheaper, easier, and faster to buy the meal up front. And hey, we picked the restaurant, so it was only fair.)

ME: So if I remember right, Alice Lloyd does something with graduate studies if the students stay local, or something?

ALLISON: When you talk about the students going into graduate programs, they don’t have to agree to serve in the region. There is an implied expectation, but there is no kind of written (or even oral) agreement. However, we do financially support our graduates to go on to graduate or professional school and to our knowledge, we are the only college in America to do so.

DEB: Oh, before we go, Allison, you’ll want this. (pulls out a check) It’s not a lot, but we hope it helps.

ALLISON: It helps a lot! Thank you!

It’s probably the only Big Charity Thing we’ll ever do, but it could make a big difference to a few people who need some extra help. And we still have enough left for retirement… assuming we get out of the market before the collapse, of course. <bum-bum-bummmmm…>

Copyright © 2018 by Jack Herlocker; all rights reserved.

*If you’re an old grad like me, you’re thinking, Gee, four years, what’s the big deal, that’s what a bachelor degree takes. But I found from Deb that five years is more common and six is not unusual at a lot of colleges these days, because too many students have to spend time earning a living in a part- or full-time job. Four years is a big deal now.**

** Meanwhile Allison, it turns out, is not only ALC Class of 2014, but she got her masters already and is working on her doctorate. She loves her job and is planning on staying in the area after she gets married in December. She and her husband-to-be are examples of the new generation of Appalachians, descended from a long line of coal workers, who have figured out how to make a living when there aren’t any more coal jobs. Hopefully we’re helping to make a few more.

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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.