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Eckerd Trustee Helmar Nielsen Establishes $1 Million Endowment to Fund The Lloyd W. Chapin Faculty Development Program

posted on 05/19/2010

Lloyd Chapin and Helmar Nielsen

In honor of Lloyd W. Chapin's 31 years of service as Eckerd College's Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Eckerd Trustee Helmar Nielsen has established a $1 million endowment to support The Lloyd W. Chapin Faculty Development Program. Mr. Nielsen's personal commitment of $500,000 was doubled through the Collier Challenge. The gift was announced by Eckerd President Donald R. Eastman III at a recent retirement dinner honoring Dean Chapin.

In making his gift, Mr. Nielsen focused on a remark Dean Chapin has made many times, "I have tremendous admiration for what faculty members do - the art and craft of teaching. I have gotten a lot of satisfaction from our being able to do things that make their professional lives more rewarding. That is very satisfying."

In his sixteen years on the Board of Trustees, ten of those as the Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, Mr. Nielsen has, as a philosophy and religion major himself, long been attracted to Eckerd College's core curriculum, particularly the College's "Western Heritage in a Global Context" course, a first-year course that introduces students to the influential ideas and thinkers of the Western tradition in conversation with those of non-Western traditions.

"Because of Helmar's generosity, The Chapin Fellows Program will perpetuate Dean Chapin's long commitment to the teaching of the general education curriculum, and it will provide a unique professional development opportunity for Eckerd's faculty," said President Eastman. "I cannot think of a more appropriate or more thoughtful way to honor Lloyd's lifelong devotion to Eckerd's academic program than by supporting the faculty of this great College."

The Lloyd W. Chapin Faculty Development Program will provide support for two different kinds of fellowships: 1) It will support faculty development programs of scholarship, study and travel for an average of two or three faculty in the Arts and Humanities each year with awards averaging $10,000 to $15,000 each; and 2) It will support an average of four or five faculty annually, from any academic discipline, aimed at enhancing their capacity to teach in Eckerd's "Western Heritage" course with awards averaging $5,000 each. The program will begin during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Both Mr. Nielsen and Dean Chapin are affiliated with Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Chapin as a distinguished alumnus and Nielsen as a Trustee and benefactor. In 2007, Mr. Nielsen introduced Dean Chapin at the ceremony in New York City at which he was presented with Union's Distinguished Alumni Award.

About Mr. Helmar Nielsen
Mr. Nielsen, a retired businessman, has a B.A. from Bucknell University, a J.D. from Boston University, and engaged in graduate work in philosophy at The John Hopkins University. He has served on Eckerd's Board of Trustees since 1994 and holds membership in the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC). Three years ago, Mr. Nielsen made a substantial gift to the College to establish the Christian Nielsen Professorship in Film Studies, named after his late brother.

Chapin Tribute April 30, 2010

Honoring Dean Lloyd W. Chapin
As the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Lloyd W. Chapin has left an indelible mark on Eckerd College: he has led the hiring decisions for all but nine of the current faculty and he has provided a steady hand through faculty reviews of the College's curriculum, general education programs, and proposals for new courses, majors and minors. Three milestones signify Dean Chapin's achievements so far: the establishment in 2001 of the Lloyd W. Chapin Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Art awarded each year at Eckerd's annual Convocation ceremony; the granting of the Phi Beta Kappa, Zeta Chapter to Eckerd in 2003; and the 2007 Unitas Distinguished Alumni Award from Union Theological Seminary to Dean Chapin.

Ever since Dean Chapin gave notice that he was retiring, his colleagues, friends and former students have found various ways to honor his extraordinary commitment to and impact on the College. In the April 30, 2010 edition of The Current (pages 14-15), "A fond farewell to Dean Lloyd Chapin" features an in-depth interview with Dean Chapin by The Current's news editor, Lauren Ormiston '11, and personal reflections by Caitlin Meehan-Draper '10, Professor Emeritus Peter Meinke, Dean of Students James J. Annarelli, and President Eastman.

The first official celebration, "Hats Off! A Tribute to Dr. Lloyd W. Chapin for Thirty Years of Leadership at Eckerd College," was held in May 2009. Spirited tributes were given by President Eastman, Mr. Nielsen, Professors Carolyn Johnston, Mark Davis and Tony Brunello, and Professor Emeritus and Athletic Director Emeritus James Harley. Hundreds of Dean and Mrs. Chapin's friends and colleagues from the education, arts and religious sectors were in attendance.

Click here to read the "Hats Off!" tribute written by Stephanie Kadel Taras '89, granddaughter of the College's founding president, Ford Scholar, and author of On Solid Rock.

At the recent retirement dinner hosted by the Eckerd College faculty, memorable tributes for Dean Chapin were aplenty. Poignant remarks made by Professors Harry Ellis, Eileen Mikals-Adachi, Tony Brunello, and Julienne Empric were intertwined with thoughtful gifts presented by the collegia: beautifully, stylized prose in calligraphy, a bonsai tree, an original water color by Professor Kirk Wang and a Chapin promise to be present when a Kirk Wang portrait of Dean Chapin is hung in Bevan Faculty Lounge, a Tampa Bay Rays #31 baseball jersey with Chapin embroidered on the back, and a prized first edition Henry James novel.

Between these two bookend events, the 2009-2010 academic year represented a series of 'lasts' for Lloyd Chapin in his official capacity as Vice President for Academic of Affairs and Dean of Faculty. Each moment has been bittersweet - his last Ceremony of Lights, his last Convocation, his last faculty retreat, his last Ford Scholar senior seminar class, and his last faculty meeting. This weekend will serve as the last Commencement where Dean Chapin reads off the names of Eckerd's graduating seniors.

Dean Chapin was recognized with a standing ovation at his final faculty meeting held earlier this month. In his concluding remarks, and with a tear in his eye, he shared, "Being the dean of this faculty has been the great honor of my life."

Dean Chapin, the feeling is mutual. It has been an honor for Eckerd College to have you as the College's Dean of Faculty for more than half of its lifetime.

After announcing the establishment of The Lloyd W. Chapin Faculty Development Program, President Eastman expressed, "It is inconceivable to me that anyone will ever have more impact on the quality of the faculty of Eckerd College than Lloyd has had and, thanks to Helmar's marvelous gift, will continue to have, in perpetuity."

Top photo: Lloyd W. Chapin and Helmar Nielsen
Bottom photo: Seated - Donald and Christine Eastman with Lloyd and Louise Chapin; Standing - Members of the Chapin family

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