Educator Provides Funds for Early Childhood Education Program

Throughout her career in education, Jan McCarthy, BS '52, MA '58, has been involved in the advancement of early childhood education. She will now inspire others in this endeavor as she has made a generous bequest to the Ball State University Foundation to establish an endowed scholarship and faculty development fund in this field of study.

McCarthy, who also holds a doctorate, has received many grants, completed numerous research projects, and has published extensively through books, monographs, and journals. She has traveled as a scholar, presented at national and international conventions, and consulted, served on, and chaired boards for world and national organizations.

Still, she says that all of these honors could never take the place of comments she has received as a professor and student advisor: "You're always there to provide encouragement and inspiration." For McCarthy, "being there" is something that comes naturally because that's what she experienced at Ball State when she attended in the 1950s.

"I always had a special bond with my professors. They really cared and made a strong effort to work with students and encourage them to reach their full potential," she said, adding that bond remained strong long after graduation when these mentors became her peers. "With my own students, I would always strive to make that same connection."

McCarthy's loyalty to Ball State has not waned. During the 29 years she taught at Indiana State (ISU), she kept in close contact with former professors. She also attended sporting events and was quite ambivalent about which team to cheer for when Ball State played ISU. "My husband, who also taught at Indiana State, would laugh because I would cheer for both teams."

Her positive experience with Ball State finally motivated McCarthy to give back to her alma mater. After her husband died unexpectedly, she made a provision in her will to create the Dr. Jan (Gorrell) McCarthy and Dr. John McCarthy Scholarship and Faculty Development Fund. McCarthy said that she and her husband never really conversed about their wills, but she knew he would approve.

"Even though my husband was a gifted physics and math professor, he was extremely interested in my field," she says. "He believed, as I do, that children need a good foundation to do well in life. By providing quality early childhood education, you lay the groundwork for a student's academic career and beyond."

The endowed scholarship will benefit graduate and/or doctoral students concentrating in the area of early childhood education at Ball State. McCarthy says there is a shortage of students in this area and hopes the funding will help direct scholars to this field.

Another portion will provide resources for faculty development in early childhood education. Providing much needed resources for faculty is essential, she reports. "It's vital that professors keep current, and one way for this to occur is to participate in education workshops, conferences, and other meetings," says McCarthy, adding that many universities don't have budget to fund these opportunities. "It gives faculty a broader prospective, encourages peer interaction, and keeps them on the cutting edge. It's a growth experience."

As McCarthy looks back on her long career, she is pleased that she had the opportunity to influence and interact with many students and be a part of their career development. Secondly, she is proud about helping to make advances in early childhood education. Now retired, she remains actively involved in research and is in great demand as a speaker. Modestly, she says of her accomplishments, "I wish I could have done more."

Learn more about bequests.