Harker has received its first endowment, The John Near Excellence in History Education Endowment Fund, in memory of the 31-year veteran of Harker’s teaching staff, John Near, who passed away in late September.
Donors of the $300,000 endowment are James and Patricia Near, John’s parents, and in John’s own words, the proceeds will be used “to help develop the history department, both through the acquisition of resources and providing growth opportunities for both faculty and students.”
John Near had much to do with the endowment’s establishment. “I wanted him to be the lead guy in this and I wanted him to set it up the way he wanted it done,” said James Near.
“I first approached John when we knew what was going to happen and said we wanted to do something in his name for the school, and that we wanted his input as to how he would like to see (the donation) established,” said Near. “Although we had some conversations about it, the main one was when he said, ‘Dad, after discussing it with Joe (Rosenthal), I think the thing that would be most meaningful to me would be something for the history department.’”
“We are grateful and honored with the news of the endowed gift in John’s memory,” said history department chair Donna Gilbert. One idea for use of the fund is to create a history resource center. “We hope this space will be just the kind of space that honors John and where his memory lives on,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert noted funds will be used for enduring programs with a special emphasis on things Near valued including a passion for history and politics, building collegiality among history teachers, nurturing the development of student skills geared especially for history and social science, encouraging creativity and integrity in the classroom and giving students who love history and politics resources that complement their studies.
Head of School Chris Nikoloff expressed his thanks for the gift and noted the value to establishing Harker’s endowment program. “John Near has always been committed to pedagogical excellence and student scholarship in history education at The Harker School,” said Nikoloff. “This endowment helps ensure that Harker’s history department will meet these two goals for generations to come.
“As we look to the future, the establishment of an endowment at Harker will increasingly become central to the long-term sustainability of critical programs and services. We are thrilled that the first material endowment gift to the school is in memory of John Near, whose extraordinary example set the bar for educational excellence and care for students,” said Nikoloff.
Those wishing to contribute to this endowed fund, or create their own, should contact Joe Rosenthal, executive director of advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To create an endowed fund at Harker, a donor would make a gift, or series of gifts, that make up a principle amount and that principle is permanently restricted and will only be used to generate interest income. Then a pre-set amount of the annual interest is used each year to support the purpose for which the endowed fund was established. Endowed funds can continue to grow over time if the interest earned on the principal exceeds the set amount used for the annual payout, and the excess is added the principal. The pre-set interest on endowed funds will support the purpose for which they are created year after year in perpetuity.
Universities have long used endowments to enhance funding to programs – Harvard has several thousand endowed funds – and private schools are finding them one of the best tools to ensure academic standards and facilities are well-funded.