July 01, 2004

Law school alum's gift creates scholarship fund

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A gift of stock paves the way for the charter graduating class of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's law school to create the school's first fully endowed scholarship.

The gift by 1976 SIUC law school alumnus Gayl S. Pyatt and her husband, Richard M. Pyatt, will provide funding to attract top law students to SIUC.

"This is an extraordinary gift by a very generous alumna of the law school," said Law School Dean Peter C. Alexander. "Gayle and her husband, Dick, have been friends of the law school for many years and this is just one more example of their continuing generosity."

The gift, valued at $155,000, is going into "The Charter Class: Campaign for Excellence Endowment." The endowment was established in 1996, the 20th anniversary for the school's inaugural Class of 1976, which included 74 graduates. It brings the value of the endowment to more than $250,000, and provides enough annual income for a full year's tuition and fees for one student.

"We are very excited that she has made this possible for incoming students year after year," Alexander said, adding that he hopes the achievement "is a model for other classes."

"We hope that the Pyatts have set an example that others may be able to, and want to follow," he said.

Pyatt has a general law practice and is the city attorney for Pinckneyville. She well remembers joining the charter class in August 1973.

"Our class was close and supportive and proud to be the pioneer class," said Pyatt. "At our 20th reunion we wanted to do something to honor and help our law school. We felt a first-year scholarship awarded solely on the basis of academic excellence would benefit the law school by maybe attracting some top-notch student away from competitive law schools.

"Many of our classmates have contributed to the Charter Class Campaign for Excellence, and Dick and I are pleased that our contribution puts this scholarship fund to the level necessary to be fully funded."

Thirty-two donors have made campaign commitments to the fund with additional donors making a contribution through the annual telefund.

SIUC's Chancellor Walter V. Wendler lauded the generosity of the Pyatts.

"This is an example of alumni showing their commitment to the University by stepping up to help current and future students," Wendler said. "We are very grateful to Gayl and Richard for this gift as well as their long-standing support and work on the University's behalf."

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Southern, said the gift is deeply appreciated.

"This provides us with an extremely valuable tool for recruiting students," he said. "Enhancing our ability to recruit and retain the best students for our graduate and professional programs is among the goals in Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment. It certainly is worth noting that Gayl Pyatt contributed to the creation of that blueprint for the University's development."

"We are extremely excited about it," said Scott M. Kruger, director of development for the law school and associate director of development for the SIU Foundation. "With Gayl's gift, the Class of 1976 gift becomes the school's first fully endowed full-tuition scholarship. It's exciting for this to happen on the occasion of the law school's 30th anniversary of when Gayl and the rest of that law school class began their legal studies."