Endowed Scholarship Honors Life of Julia Duckwall

The Julia M. Duckwall Memorial Scholarship Fund is the first fully endowed scholarship in AIR’s history. With a base of $50,000, the scholarship will fund an early-career member’s attendance at a professional development event each year. Named as a memorial for Julia M. Duckwall, AIR member and Chair of the Professional Development Committee, the scholarship was founded shortly after her death in 2002 and has grown toward full endowment every year. Since 2009, friends and supporters have gathered each year at the Forum for a fundraising dinner, while others have contributed cash or the honorariums they receive for various services.

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Julia was a Senior Research Analyst in the Office of Institutional Research at Johnson County Community College in Kansas when she passed away. Mary Ann Coughlin, a Past President of AIR, described Julia as “passionate about our profession and about serving and helping others in our field become better professionals. Of course, professional development is at the heart of AIR, and making opportunities available to others within our Association who could not otherwise afford them is what the scholarship is all about. What a great tribute to Julia.”

Dawn Geronimo Terkla, who was AIR President when Julia died, reflected that “the creation of the scholarship was our way of providing a living memorial and tribute to her memory. Julia loved institutional research and her colleagues. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was enthusiastic about everything.”

This story shared by Jeffrey Seybert, a colleague of Julia and fellow AIR member, captures Julia’s spirit: “We conducted many job interviews for positions in the eight years Julia worked in the Office of Institutional Research at Johnson County Community College. At the end of every one of those interviews, when it was clear that the interview was over, Julia would interrupt the small talk in a very serious tone of voice and say, ‘But wait, we've not asked the most important question of all. Please, tell us, how do you really feel about chocolate?’"

Julia and her contributions to AIR were celebrated in New Orleans with enthusiasm, fond memories, and festivity. A list of donors to the fund can be found on the Grants and Scholarship page of the AIR website. This fall, a committee will establish the application process for the Julia M. Duckwall Scholarship, and the fund will begin to issue scholarships. Thank you to all who helped make this dream and honor come to full fruition.