Making History and a Philanthropic Difference

In April, Soyeon Shim, dean of the UW School of Human Ecology (SoHE), received one of the highest honors bestowed in academia — an endowed deanship. This transformational fund was made possible by a group of generous donors: Linda L. Ahlers ’72; Leola Culver; Lynn ’69, MS’75 and Gary Mecklenburg; Nancy Nicholas ’55; Dorothy O’Brien ’70 and Richard Antoine ’69; Elizabeth Holloway Schar ’75 and Mark Schar; Jane ’72 and Patrick ’72, MS’75 Thiele; and one anonymous contributor.

Named for an alumna with deep UW roots who championed the power we have to make a difference, the Elizabeth Holloway Schar Deanship is helping to expand the area of early-childhood development. Elizabeth’s lifelong work was led by an ongoing commitment to making a difference for children, families, and communities. She was described by loved ones as humble, curious, and compassionate. Elizabeth was a SoHE Board of Visitors Chair Emerita and served as a campaign committee chair for the All Ways Forward campaign.

“Elizabeth was such an inspirational leader and close friend to all of us as well as a distinguished alumna, and a human ecologist through and through,” says Shim. “She has left a huge legacy, and it is up to us to live up to that.”

This is the first time in the history of the university that an endowed deanship has been named solely in honor of a woman. The purpose of this gift is to offer the school a margin of excellence for recruiting and retaining prominent individuals, foster innovative approaches to solving societal issues, and ensure the school’s success.

“I see a future where all UW students will graduate with a human-centered approach to problem-solving and strategic thinking,” Shim remarks. “I see endless possibilities. I welcome the challenges the future might bring because I am confident this is the time for human ecology to dream big and for our faculty, students, alumni, and friends to take bold steps to move forward toward a shared vision of excellence.”