Alum Richard “Dick” Phillips (MDiv ’60) and his wife, Ethel, have been an integral part of Iliff’s DNA for more than 60 years. They arrived newly-married at Iliff in the summer of 1957. Since then, between the two of them, they have held many roles in the institution, from student to work staff, service on committees, Alumni board member, Planning Committee member, Diversity Task Force member, and scholarship sponsor.
“There was never a sense of not giving in our lives. There was a sense of mutuality in giving. For us, it goes beyond just giving money. We have always been generous people too. And that continues and expands as you have more means to give.”
With such an illustrious and intimate history with Iliff, Dick and Ethel continue to shape the institution’s growth with an endowed scholarship based on building opportunities for the students.
*The two books by Dick are Harvey H. Potthoff: A Life in Process and Hendricks Chapel: Seventy-five Years of Service to Syracuse University. Each book covers many years of service at Iliff and Syracuse.
What motivates you to give?
[Ethel]: I think the fact that so many people helped us along the way made an impact in our lives. We have always worked at Iliff while Dick was a student and we would not have been able to do some of the things we did if it had not been for benefits and the scholarship money we received. We both had families that we did not call often, but if we did, they were there. Our rural community in the northwest Montana also supported us by their interest in us and our new life.[Dick]: Giving is a two-way street. Giving comes right back at you, almost immediately. There’s a reward in giving. I hear people say “it feels good to give” – yes but that’s only part of it. You’re contributing at a level which is beyond feel-good level. In a way, there is a social benefit in giving. You see a good many people flowering in various ways. You can say, “I helped.” I was involved in some way through giving.
How have your work and life experiences shaped the way you give?
[Dick]: We were involved at so many levels at Iliff. During our time at Iliff. During our time at Iliff, we became involved in more and more broadly-based issues, people, families, and the like. The institution kept challenging us new responsibilities which contributed to a tremendous educational value for me. We blossomed at Iliff and it enabled us to live the lives we live.[Ethel]: Iliff has changed my life in many ways, and through our world and Iliff are much different than when Dick was a student. Iliff continues to change lives and our world to support Iliff’s much needed work.
Does a notion of legacy play into your decision to give?
[Ethel]: Our view of what our legacy is to help other legacies go on. It is not for us, it is for the future.We need to open people by exposing them to different ideas, people, and experiences. I came from a very homogeneous community and Iliff did that for me. You become more aware of the whole world – not just our small part of it.[Dick]: One’s legacy comes out of a lot of things one does, which were not designed to be a legacy at all. It is unintentional and surprising at the same time. In a way, your legacy is not what one intended to leave, it is what in fact remained.
What does it mean to make a gift?
[Dick]: It is an expression of gratitude!