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Foundation and Development

Grice Scholarship Legacy at Western Illinois a Family Affair

Evelyn GriceA conversation with George Grice (’71), alumnus, benefactor, author, farmer, and retired professor, always returns to three common themes: family, teaching and learning, and Western Illinois University.

“Mine is a family of educators, and we have a tradition with Western,” said George. “My parents, my two sisters, my aunt, my uncle, and grandmother all earned education degrees at Western and were teachers at heart. We were farmers, but both my parents taught school and the importance of education guided our lives.”

Grice grew up with his family on their farm, White Gate, near London Mills, Illinois. His parents, Wrenn and Evelyn, each spent more than 20 years in the classroom teaching. Grice’s sisters, Leanne and Carol, both followed their parents to Western and earned degrees in education. George went away for his undergraduate studies, then returned to Western to complete his master’s degree in communication in 1971. He went on to teach in higher education – Trinity University, Sam Houston State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, and Radford University, from which he retired in 2008.

Grice’s research interests include instructional communication, public address, and business and professional communication. He co-authored eleven editions of three communication textbooks. His Mastering Public Speaking is in its 8th edition and has been adopted by more than 100 colleges and universities throughout the nation.

Another of the Grice traditions is generosity, especially towards Western. George established the first family scholarship, the Wrenn and Evelyn Grice Scholarship, in 1985 in honor of his parents. In 1993, the Carol Grice Major Scholarship was named for his sister, followed by the Leanne Grice Porch Scholarship in 1994 to also honor a sister. Again in 1994, George began the Jessie Ferne Routh Grice Scholarship to honor his paternal grandmother, a 1929 graduate of Western (in education, of course).  Four teacher education students per year are chosen to be Grice scholars, all planning to teach at the elementary level.

This year, George endowed a Faculty Instructional Development Fund in the Department of Communication to fund proposals that make positive differences in classroom instruction and student learning. Projects that are extensions of classroom learning and that engage faculty and students in cooperative study are also encouraged.  “I want to encourage active learning in the sphere of the classroom,” said George. “This fund is for faculty, or faculty may sponsor applications from undergraduate students and teaching assistants.”

RockyGeorge is an advocate of active learning and empowering students with a responsibility for their own learning. “To paraphrase Bel Kaufman (Up the Down Staircase),” George likes to say, “there’s one reason to teach: to make a permanent, positive difference in the life of a student.”

George Grice, his parents, and two sisters have taught a cumulative total of 130 years. Beyond the classroom, Grice and his family legacy continue to make permanent, positive differences in the lives of Western students. The four Grice family education scholarships have for many years helped students become elementary teachers, and now the Grice Faculty Instructional Development Fund will influence classroom instruction and student learning.

“George is a rare individual who has carefully and quietly contributed for many years and has built a thoughtful and meaningful scholarship structure in his family’s names,” said Vice President for Advancement & Public Services Brad Bainter. “The addition of his own endowment for faculty development is just incredible. Western is made stronger through his friendship, and we are very, very grateful.”

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