He served his country with distinction in the military and shared his knowledge as a professor at other colleges, but when Jack James ’62 thinks about his legacy, he wants it to be where his heart is — forever at Oswego.
A member of the Sheldon Legacy Society — a group of loyal Oswego supporters who have remembered the college in their estate plans — James has bequeathed 70 percent of his estate to Oswego.
His gift will help to expand and grow The Jack C. James ’62 Endowment Fund, which supports three initiatives dear to James’ heart. It will augment The Jack C. James ’62 Scholarship Fund and establish two new funds, The Jack C. James ’62 Equipment and Facilities Improvement Fund and The Jack C. James ’62 School of Education Student Program Fund.
His impetus for making Oswego such an important part of his estate plans, James says, stems from his confidence in the institution.
“Not a lot of organizations have been around for 150 years and give you confidence based on a track record of excellence and service,” he says.
His personal confidence is rooted in his long involvement with the college as a member of the Oswego College Foundation Board of Directors, Reunion volunteer and former chair of The Fund for Oswego, all of which afforded him the opportunity to work with President Deborah F. Stanley and key members of her administration.
He appreciated the “prudent, fiduciary” application of gifts by the college. “To endow a gift means it will be here in the future, forever,” he says. For him, the college inspires confidence that future leaders of the institution will use the gifts wisely.
The Jack C. James ’62 Scholarship, now in its fifth year, was his first initiative. It provides scholarship help for non-traditional students, a demographic James taught at National Louis University as an adjunct professor in the College of Management and Business.
“When I meet my scholarship winners, I come away humbled,” he says, “They make enormous sacrifices, working full time and raising families, while they earn their degrees.” Knowing he provides financial help to them is meaningful to James, especially in the current tight economy.
Likewise, supporting the School of Education through a student-programming fund speaks to his heart. Education is a family tradition, with both his mother and sister serving as teachers. “When I returned from the military, I realized my real love was education,” says the Vietnam-era veteran, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps with the rank of colonel.
“When you invest in education, you are investing in the future,” he says.
He helped build 26 bases while serving in the USMC. Knowing the work that goes into bringing facilities on line, he says he was “wowed” by what the college has done to upgrade its infrastructure in recent years. So he has endowed a fund to help with future campus improvements.
“When I return to campus now I see the phoenix rising,” he says. “I think back to the [Quonset] huts” that were on campus when he was a student in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“I have no idea what the needs will be on campus years from now, but I know there will be needs,” he says. “And I have the confidence in the people who put all this brick and mortar into place to use my gift wisely.”
Following his heart and choosing to invest his philanthropy in an institution where he is confident it will be wisely managed is key to Jack James’ legacy.