Westen Illinois University - College of Education and Human Services - Profiles Magazine - Departmental Update

Arlington ("Arlie") and Arlene Seymour

Retired teachers Arlington ("Arlie") and Arlene Seymour recently put a capstone on their tradition of generosity by making a $1 million planned gift to Western Illinois University.

Beginning in 1997, the Seymours committed to Western by establishing the Arlington and Arlene Seymour Teacher Education Endowment to provide scholarships for students pursuing careers in teaching. Annual gifts are made to fund the scholarship now, and a Charitable Remainder Unitrust was created with a gift of appreciated securities to permanently fund the scholarship. The unitrust provides the Seymours with retirement income, and proceeds of the trust will pass on to Western. This fall, the Seymours shared that they also have provided for a $1 million planned gift for the scholarship.

"We felt that Western provided a personal association for what we wanted to do with our estate for the immediate and long-term future," said Arlie, a 1953 education graduate. "On visits to the campus and having our residence in Macomb from 2004 through 2008 reinforced our confidence in having made that choice."

Arlie and Arlene met in California where they both were teaching in the early 1960s. Arlie had graduated from WIU in 1953 and taught high school in Springfield (IL) before heading to California in 1962. Arlene graduated from Michigan State, teaching in that state before moving to California in 1964. It was there they met, married and spent most of their careers in the San Jose (CA) Unified School District. The Seymours retired in 1993 with a combined 69 years of teaching spread over five decades.


"We both worked our way through college, with modest help from our parents. This was true of the majority of college people of our generation, the 'depression babies.' Need was a criteria for all of us," said Arlie. "We have seen so many students in education fall through the cracks, and we wanted to help them."

"We have been exceptionally pleased with the administration of our scholarship awards over the past decade," added Arlene. "We have received many written communications from the recipients, and during recent years were able to meet many of them personally."

According to WIU Foundation Executive Officer Brad Bainter, The Seymours are "down-to-earth people with a very quiet way about them."

"They have given of their time and resources over the years without drawing attention to themselves," Bainter noted. "This planned gift was made without fuss or fanfare. WIU is made stronger by the presence and support of the Seymours. We are grateful for their generosity, and thank them on behalf of the many future teachers (and their students) who will be impacted by their gifts."

"We don't feel that we are doing anything special, and we don't expect anything in return," they said. "The impact that we hope to make is for the scholarships to just be there – for them to be available and lend a helping hand to students that need it."

Arlie added, "We hope our commitment to WIU will persuade other alumni and friends of the University to do the same."