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Shorter's million dollar gift establishes Chair in English


ROME — Shorter University has received a $1,000,000 gift to establish the Joan Alden Speidel Chair in English at the University. The late William Chase Speidel established the estate gift to honor his wife, Joan Alden Speidel, a 1957 graduate of Shorter. Mrs. Speidel passed away in July of this year.

“We are deeply grateful to receive this endowment gift from the Speidel Estate and know that future generations of Shorter University students will benefit from the Speidels’ generosity,” said Shorter University President Don Dowless. “As we fulfill our mission of Transforming Lives through Christ, Shorter University maintains a commitment to the liberal arts, and we are deeply appreciative of the support this endowment will provide to our English program.”

The Speidel Chair in English will be awarded every five years by the university’s president. Income from the endowment will be used to support the salary of a senior professor of national distinction in the English Department of Shorter University. The individual holding the Speidel Chair will engage in activities to provide significant improvements in instruction, student success and/or retention in the teacher’s discipline or related areas.

Speidel, of Macon, kept in touch with her best friends from Shorter through the years, taking part in reunions and communicating via chain letter. She was an English and Latin teacher whose love of learning led her to travel the world with her husband and friends.

At Shorter, Speidel was an active participant in campus life, serving on the Student Council, Social Council, and Sports Council. She was active in the White and Gold Club, Honor Board, Argonaut (senior honor society), Science Club, French Club, Psychology Club, International Relations Club, Future Teachers of America, Key Club, Rho Club, National Student Association Congress, the Eunomian literary and social society, the Shorter Christian Association, and the Episcopal-Lutheran Club.

She was selected by her fellow students to receive the superlative “Ideal Shorter Girl” for the 1956-57 academic year, was named to Who’s Who, and was invited to membership in the Phi Sigma Alpha honor society. A regular on Shorter’s Honor Roll, she received the Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Scholarships and the English Award. She graduated summa cum laude and was a member of the staffs of The Periscope student newspaper and The Argo yearbook as literary editor.

“Mrs. Speidel’s involvement during her days as a student is a wonderful example for today’s Shorter students,” Dowless said. “She balanced social, sports, and spiritual interests in an exemplary fashion, all while excelling in her academic endeavors. Her dedication to excellence is reflected in the generosity that she and Mr. Speidel have shown in establishing this chair in English, and we are grateful for the impact the Speidels will have on future generations of Shorter students.”

Speidel is survived by her three children, Mike Harrison, Catherine Tiersten, and Amanda Manker and grandchildren, Alex and Caroline Harrison and Brandon Manker.

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