An endowment honoring a university professor will allow students to enjoy what she loved to do throughout her career.
The Marybelle Keim Student Travel Award Endowment honors Marybelle Keim, a higher education professor at the university. Keim, who died in 2011, became a faculty member in 1985 and was an esteemed professor and author, according to many of her coworkers.
Keim’s five sons, Don, Dale, Doug, Dave and Daryl, are responsible for funding the award that will provide financial support for graduate students in the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education and Council for the Study of Community Colleges.
Patrick Dilley, associate professor of higher education and qualitative research, said Keim was known to attend conferences in her field and encouraged her students to attend as well.
Eden Thorne, director of development for the college of education and human services, said Keim’s sons were looking for a way for their mother to be remembered at the university.
“The sons just wanted to provide a fund where she could further the legacy of mentoring students and allowing those students to attend conferences where they could share their knowledge and be recognized for their accomplishments,” she said.
Keim authored over 100 books, peer-reviewed manuscripts, monographs and reports and, among other things, cared about her students just as much as she cared about her research, Dilley said.
“Dr. Keim found her reason for being in the profession in two places: her students and her professional conferences, which is where she felt most at home and most appreciated,” he said.
Dilley said the money from the endowment has helped students attend conferences for the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Organization of Education Historians, and the Midwestern Educational Research Annual Conference.
Students at these conferences either present their research or attend to gain knowledge from other students and professionals’ research and data, Dilley said. He said Keim also founded the Association for the Study of Higher Education conference.
“Our students in higher education are masters and doctoral students and it’s very important for them to be able to make professional contacts and be able to see the type of scholarship that is being done now and learn in that experiential way,” Dilley said. “I like to think that Marybelle would be pleased.”
Keim faced many challenges while employed at SIU because she was a woman, Dilley said. He said despite her challenges, she still put forth her best work.
“The department was, by all accounts, a very hostile work environment for her,” Dilley said. “It was not easy for her at the time because of the very misogynist views of some of her colleagues.”
Dilley said Keim’s work ethic made her an impressive person.
“She was intimidating to work with,” he said. “Dr. Keim, she had very high standards and expectations of faculty and students.”
Dilley said after her death, Keim’s sons contacted Judith Green, an associate professor teaching courses in educational administration and higher education and a friend of Keim’s, to find a way to honor their mother. Green and Keim’s sons came up with the idea of the travel endowment.
Saran Donahoo, an associate professor teaching courses in educational administration and higher education, said the endowment gives opportunities to students who normally would not have them.
“It represents her in the fact that she did a lot with students in her career and even before she passed away,” Donahoo said. “We really don’t have a lot of other money supporting student travel, and this is to help them feel comfortable presenting their research at the national conferences.”
The conferences students attend are not only helpful in their role as students, but will be a good habit for them to continue in their careers, Donahoo said.
“It’s not just beneficial for them as students, but beneficial for them to do in their longtime careers,” Donahoo said.
Elizabeth Zinchuk can be reached at
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