Hall-Knox Scholarship Endowment Honors Family’s Passion for Education

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Lifelong Methodist and former President of Wesleyan College, Ruth A. Knox, established the Hall-Knox Scholarship Endowment Fund with the Georgia United Methodist Foundation in honor of the people she loves and admires. We caught up with President Knox to find out why this endowment is so important to her.

Q. Could you please explain your family ties to Wesleyan College in Macon?
A. Both my Hall and Knox families have deep connections with Wesleyan College. My grandfather, Clarence A. Hall, was a Methodist minister in the North Georgia Conference from 1914-1951, which made a Wesleyan education possible for his four daughters. All of them, including my mother, graduated (Elizabeth Hall Mason in 1934, Katherine Hall Arnold in 1937, Ruth Hall Knox in 1940, and Mary Hall Hearin in 1943). My father’s older half sister, Katherine Knox Withers, also attended in the Class of 1921 (she was my godmother). Two of my father’s brothers (Peter and Lawrence) also married Wesleyan graduates (Mary Lyles Aiken Knox, Class of 1934; and Margaret Evans Knox, Class of 1937). My sister, Mary Knox McNeill, attended for two years, and several cousins also are Wesleyan alumnae. My father, Robert E. Knox, and my older brother, Bob Jr., served on the Board of Trustees. With all those ties, I grew up wanting to attend Wesleyan College and never seriously considered any other option. This amazing array of women served as powerful examples to me of what a Wesleyan Woman can accomplish.

Q. What has the legacy of being a Wesleyanne meant to you?
A.
 
Being a Wesleyanne is an essential part of my identity, just as are being part of my family and a member of the United Methodist Church. My experiences as a student both in and out of the classroom, the friendships formed here that have lasted a lifetime, and the great privilege I’ve had to serve Wesleyan for most of my adult life as a volunteer and now as president all have been priceless blessings.
 

Q. What inspired you to establish the Hall-Knox Scholarship Endowment Fund?
A.
 
My mother’s example often inspires me, and I do try to emulate the generous spirit that led her to create two scholarships at Wesleyan. Several members of my family have contributed to them over the years, including my brothers Bob and Andy; my sister Mary and her husband and children; and other Knox and Hall cousins. Members of my Hall family also created a scholarship at Wesleyan to honor our grandmother, Virginia Middleton Hall, who herself was a major force in our family and in the United Methodist Church for all of her 101 years. Education was exceedingly important to her, and she was so proud that all her daughters and three of her granddaughters graduated from Wesleyan College. This new scholarship is inspired by all these people I love, admire, and appreciate.

Q. Who is this fund named in honor of?
A.
The scholarship endowment is being funded in part by The Hall-Knox Foundation, created by my mother a few years before her death to ensure our family’s ongoing support of the institutions and causes that have shaped our lives. A significant portion of the Foundation’s assets can be traced to the hard work and dedication of my father, who was a lawyer, businessman, and community leader in Thomson for many years. Both of my parents were lifelong Methodists, both were well educated, and both were models of generosity, compassion, and love. They were wonderful partners, too, joining together to serve and support the church, our community, and particularly higher education. Bob, Andy, our niece Ruth McNeill, and I make the decisions now, but we continue to be influenced by what Mother and Daddy would want us to do. The Foundation’s name recognizes their legacy, as does the Hall-Knox Scholarship Endowment Fund at the GUMF.

Q. Why did you choose the GUMF to manage this fund?
A.
 
As a Board member of the GUMF, I have been quite touched by the generosity of my fellow trustees and by their commitment to building more significant endowed funding to ensure that every United Methodist student can have the means to attend one of our outstanding United Methodist colleges or universities. I have seen firsthand how these scholarships can make the difference in a student’s ability to cover her costs. My family and I are delighted to be in a position to add another fund to this collective group of life changing scholarships.

I have absolute faith in the GUMF as a fiduciary of the fund and trust the foundation completely to invest and manage the assets well to achieve the purposes of the scholarship program. Establishing the fund with the GUMF also strengthens the partnerships that are essential for the success of the United Methodist Dollars for Scholars program. With the combined efforts and resources of local churches, United Methodist related colleges or universities, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, and the GUMF, we can make a superior college experience available for many more students. That’s exciting!

Q. Could you explain how this scholarship will bless students in perpetuity?
A. 
The scholarship fund will be invested permanently, with only a modest percentage of the fund’s market value available for distribution each year. Based on historical patterns, the fund’s value should increase by a larger percentage than is distributed. Thus, the original funding will be preserved, returns in excess of distributions will be reinvested, the fund will grow, and scholarships will be available for students each year.

Q. What are the advantages of being educated at a United Methodist higher education institution?
A. 
At Wesleyan we focus on a vision: “Forever first for women’s education – striving for excellence, grounded in faith, and engaged in service to the world.” We believe that having a first-rate academic program is exceedingly important, but there is more to a great college experience. The liberally educated person realizes that she is part of something much bigger than herself, that she has an obligation to use her superior education to make at least her corner of the world a better place. As the heirs of John Wesley who famously said, “the gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness,” we are inspired to nurture leaders who want to be of service to and in community with others. This is the extra dimension a United Methodist education can provide.

Q. Would you encourage other United Methodists to consider establishing a scholarship fund with the GUMF?
A. 
Certainly! Establishing a scholarship fund with the GUMF helps both United Methodist students and the United Methodist colleges and universities they attend. With the kind of educational experience one enjoys on a campus like Wesleyan’s, these young people are more likely to become principled leaders in their communities, churches, and professions. Everyone benefits. In addition, the GUMF is trustworthy, professional, and sound in every respect, serving our church and the world by “sowing seeds of faith for future generations.”

This article was originally published in the Georgia United Methodist Foundation's 2015 Annual Report.