Thomas W. Boswell ’66 and Cheryl K. Boswell

Thomas W. Boswell and his wife, Cheryl K. Boswell, established the Hampton and Esther Boswell Distinguished University Professorship in honor of Tom’s DePauw experience and in memory of his parents.

“I have wonderful memories of my four years at DePauw and often reflect on what those years provided: valuable learning and meaningful opportunities for social broadening, leadership challenges and athletic endeavors,” Tom says. “This sense of value of the DePauw experience was underscored by the fact that I was a first-generation college graduate who had seen firsthand the options that had been opened by that experience.”

He says his reflections on his DePauw experience and its influence on his life nurtured his plan to give back when the circumstances and opportunities arose. Tom, who celebrated his 50th reunion in 2016, lettered in baseball at DePauw, was a member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity and graduated with a degree in economics. When he and Cheryl decided to make a meaningful gift to DePauw, they considered timing and substance.

“We wanted to do it sooner rather than later,” Tom says, “so we might witness the impacts of our gift as they evolved over the years. Our strong orientation was toward academic life at the school – faculty and the programs they inspire. As a result, in conjunction with academic staff, the Distinguished University Professorship program was developed.”

The Hampton and Esther Boswell Distinguished University Professorship is awarded to a teacher-scholar selected from among the very best nationally recognized experts in their discipline. It also supports special projects, symposia, workshops and development of curricular materials.

Elizabeth Eslami – an Iranian-American writer of novels, essays, and short stories and winner of the 2013 Ohio State University Short Fiction Prize – serves as the Hampton and Esther Boswell Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at DePauw during the 2016-17 academic year. Her story collection, Hibernate, published by The Ohio State University Press in 2014, was also a finalist for the 2011 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

“My father, from a central Indiana farming family, graduated from high school in 1928 at the beginning of the Great Depression,” Tom says. “He was accepted at DePauw and granted a Rector Scholarship. In an interview with Dr. Longden, he was told that all costs would be covered except room and board in the amount of $54 per semester. Unable to acquire such funds, he did not attend college. With this background, it became my parents’ strong motivation to ensure that each of their five children would get the education that they had not been able to have. Thus, our DePauw Professorship was named in honor of my parents.”

Before their gift to establish the Boswell Professorship, Tom and Cheryl had been longtime supporters of DePauw’s Annual Fund, now The Fund for DePauw. Tom also served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors. He retired as president and chief executive officer of Overnite Transportation Company in 1995. Tom and Cheryl live in Kiawah Island, S. C., and have three grown sons.


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