Iliff’s President and his wife Marilyn have set up an endowed scholarship fund to create lasting opportunities for future generations of Iliffians. Reflecting on their reasons for giving, Tom and Marilyn agreed that it’s about love and joy:
When you fall in love with a community of people and they have received you, and you believe deeply in what you’re doing together, you can’t help but give. There’s joy in connecting and in investing.
What motivates you to give?
We give because we believe in the power of Iliff to transform the world. For us, this is a dual focus. In our giving through the scholarship fund, we provide for the future. In our giving through the annual fund, we support Iliff’s current needs.
Our giving is inspired by our students. We love having them over to our house for a meal. In those special times, they share stories of their restlessness to heal the world, and we witness how they explore together pathways that lead to that healing.
What does it mean to make a gift?
A theologian who captures what it means to us to give is Douglas John Hall. He reminds us, “We own nothing but are entrusted with everything.” We don’t give to Iliff, we give with Iliff because Iliff honors our student’s hunger and restlessness that will settle for nothing less than the transformation of the world. It changes everything when we remember we are trustees of God’s abundance – together.
How have your work and life experiences shaped the way you give?
[Marilyn]: As a child of the 60’s, I wanted to make a difference in terms of racial justice, but my high school had not prepared me. At the University of Redlands, I studied with Rebecca Rio Jelliffe, who showed me what it meant to unmask privilege and put justice and giving first. I visited her when she was in her 90’s, and she told me, “People of faith invested in me. They knew of my passion for literary criticism, and they sacrificed so I could leave the Philippines and study at Berkeley. I was positioned to join the faculty as a researcher, but I couldn’t do it. I had to go to Redlands.” I asked why. “Because of you, Dear…. I had to go to Redlands….I was waiting for you.” It was so deep and beautiful to hear her say, “And, see? You knew what to do with it” – this spirit of gift and action.
Does a notion of legacy play into your decision to give?
[Tom]: I think when you leave a legacy, the attention should not be on yourself. The attention should be on what you’re leaving the legacy for. We both were recipients of scholarship support, and when we received it, we felt that, long ago, someone had anticipated our need. This is a scholarship that we invite everyone to join us in building. I’d love to think that in nine, ten generations from now, the message to those who receive this scholarship will be, “We knew you were coming. We’ve been expecting you. Receive this and thrive.”