Eckerd College announces new scholars program honoring retiring president

Published August 15, 2019
Student with camera at ruins in far east

Tiffany Velasquez ’21 at Angkor Wat during a 2019 study abroad trip to Cambodia, photo by Margot Balliet ’20

When some college presidents retire, campuses build statues and rename buildings. When Donald R. Eastman III and his wife, Christine, leave Eckerd College in July 2020, the community will honor them with something far more valuable: a life-changing educational opportunity for students.

Starting in 2020, the College will select qualified sophomores for the Donald and Christine Eastman Scholars Program, which provides talented, entrepreneurial, intellectually curious students with exceptional ideas a $10,000 grant to pursue them. Intended for special projects that will complement classroom work, the funds may support study abroad for international scholarship, service-learning in the community or around the world, an internship stipend or research resources.

“Having dedicated our nearly 20 years at Eckerd to improve and enhance the student experience and each individual’s potential, we are honored and humbled that this will be a part of our legacy at Eckerd College,” said President Eastman about the program. “Eastman Scholars will be innovators and future leaders, and I can’t imagine a better way to invest in the future.”

Funding for the program will be provided through a $2.5 million endowment built with donations from members of the Board of Trustees, alumni, interested community members and friends of the Eastmans. Once fully funded, the program will support the selection of up to 10 new scholars each year.

“We are creating a program that will live forever at the College and offer students life-changing, valuable experiences that will pay dividends well into their careers,” explained Greg Mino ’93, chair of the board’s Development Steering Committee.

The inaugural class of Eastman Scholars will be selected during the Spring Semester of 2020— President Eastman’s final semester with the College. Eligible students will be sophomores who are enrolled full time with a 3.0 or better grade point average and who live on campus. Applicants will submit essays that articulate their commitment to this elevated level of educational engagement and deeply define their global, spiritual, residential, environmental and personal values—the five key values of Eckerd College. Once accepted into the program, students are required to: maintain their GPA; remain in campus housing; complete a one-credit, two-semester Eastman Scholars course their junior year; develop a plan for their journey as an Eastman Scholar; complete at least one study abroad experience; participate in at least one internship; complete assigned readings and write reflection papers; and mentor the next class of Eastman Scholars.

Dr. and Mrs. Eastman

Dr. Donald R. Eastman III with Mrs. Christine Eastman

“The Eastman Scholars Program will support the creativity and ambition of our students seeking unique and challenging educational experiences,” said Suzan Harrison, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “It sustains President Eastman’s vision, and that of our College’s founders, to offer a personalized education steeped in the liberal arts tradition.”

As a group, the Eastman Scholars will be responsible for selecting and executing a service-learning project, exemplifying another bedrock of an Eckerd education in service to the community.

Eckerd College Board of Trustees Chairman John Finneran said that honoring the Eastmans through extending opportunities was the best choice. “Don’s leadership has transformed Eckerd College,” he said, “and there is no more fitting way to recognize all he and Christine have done for this special place.”

Dr. Eastman joins a trip to study culinary science in Italy

Dr. Eastman (far right) and his wife Christine joined students on a study abroad trip to study culinary science in Northern Italy in 2015.