Roosevelt University will be able to financially assist its student athletes for years to come through a new, first-ever endowed scholarship fund that is both historic and timely.
The history is in the name: The Edwin and Gladys Turner Scholarship got its start with a $10,000 lead gift from Gladys, a librarian at the University for more than 40 years, during her 100th birthday party celebration in 2013.
The late Mrs. Turner made that gift and later a second of $7,000 for student athletes because of her own strong University ties and work of her late husband Edwin, the first athletic director of the Roosevelt Lakers who helped start University athletics in 1946, one year after the University’s founding.
At the time, Mr. Turner was the only black coach of an integrated collegiate basketball team in the United States. He also coached soccer, softball, track, bowling, tennis and golf and worked hard to encourage his athletes, in spite of discrimination that kept him, as was custom back then, from accompanying them to play, for instance, on the greens of private golf courses.
Now the gift by his late wife that began more than six years ago is again timely – thanks to a donation by Roosevelt’s current Athletics Director John Jaramillo.
“I had been thinking for some time about establishing something to help our student athletes, and I saw this as an opportunity to start down that path,” said Jaramillo, who made the final $615 donation needed to reach the fund’s endowment threshold.
His gift, the 49th donation to the fund since 2013, means a lot more to Jaramillo than simply passing go to endow scholarships for perpetuity in the Turners’ names.
For as Roosevelt director of development Judith Coleman began to move toward the endowment with a final outreach to potential scholarship donors in July, Jaramillo was already thinking about his longstanding commitment to make a positive difference in memory of his mother, who died at age 43 on July 31, 2006.
“We had been working together for some time to get donations and I remember us holding one last event with alumni and Lakers coaches whose generosity brought us closer to endowment - but not quite there,” recalled Coleman.
“I remember John asking me, ‘How much are we short?’ I told him $615. Then he wanted to know, ‘Can I make a pledge?’”
In a July 31 letter to his athletics staff, Jaramillo shared this: “I made this donation today to walk the walk and show that giving back to Roosevelt is more than just the daily work I do.”
“I also made it on this particular day because July 31 marks the passing of my mother, Victoria Jaramillo, who taught me to give back to others and emphasized the importance of a college education…since she could not afford to pursue that opportunity herself.”
Michael Cassidy, vice president of enrollment management and previously the athletics director who re-introduced intercollegiate sports at Roosevelt in 2010 after its 21-year hiatus, said the Turners always were and always will be inspirational.
In particular, he noted the many accomplishments of Mr. Turner, an accomplished college athlete himself in football, basketball and track and field who founded a physical–education program and curriculum at Roosevelt, and became a professor emeritus at retirement from the University in 1981.
“This scholarship honors the ingenuity and drive that Mr. Turner had, which became my model for rebuilding Roosevelt's athletics program,” said Cassidy.
He hired Jaramillo, who like many at Roosevelt was the first in his family to go to college, in 2012.
“John’s decision to endow the Turner fund makes a statement not only about the importance of giving back, but also is informative for our athletes about the many contributions made by the Turners. It is great to see the legacy come full circle,” he added.
To donate to the Edwin and Gladys Turner Endowed Scholarship or to learn more about donation opportunities for student athletes, contact Judith Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-341-6455.