Jamie and Alison Small, of Midland, Texas, have made a $100,000 challenge gift to a new endowment fund that Washington and Lee University has established in memory of Pamela Hemenway Simpson, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History, who died in October 2011.
The Pamela H. Simpson Endowment for Art will enrich the educational mission of the Department of Art and Art History, including its ability to bring prominent visitors to campus and to support students who visit studios of visiting artists.
Jamie Small, a 1981 Washington and Lee graduate and current president of the Alumni Board of Directors, and his wife, Alison, made their gift to encourage other alumni and friends to support the fund. The Smalls, whose daughter Eileen is a first-year student at W&L, will match gifts on a dollar-to-dollar basis.
"It is important to acknowledge the impact Pam had on the W&L community, including me," said Small. "Being a geology major, I was not draw to art naturally. After taking one of Pam’s courses as an elective, however, the love of art was nurtured and continues to thrive even 30 years since my graduation. Alison and I want to support the University’s commitment to bringing talented artists and visiting faculty to campus, who add another dimension to the program and will foster a love for art among the student body."
"The challenge from Jamie and Alison is a wonderful gesture on their part and offers important impetus as we establish this fund in tribute to Pam Simpson," said Robert Strong, acting provost of the University. "Through the many activities that this fund will support, we will be constantly reminded of Pam's countless achievements during her 38 years on the W&L faculty."
Simpson, who was the first female tenure-track professor at W&L and the first female professor to receive an endowed chair, served in numerous roles during her career. She was assistant and associate dean of the College and chair of the Co-Education Steering Committee, which implemented the University's decision to admit women in the mid-1980s.
An art and architectural historian, she wrote three books, numerous exhibition catalogues, articles in both the academic and popular press, and book reviews. In September 2011, the University established the Pamela H. Simpson Professorship. It will be held by a member of the undergraduate faculty who, like Simpson, exemplifies the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service.
The Smalls' challenge gift is part of the University's "Honor Our Past, Build Our Future" campaign, which began publicly in 2010 with a goal of $500,000,000 to be raised by 2015.
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs