One week before what would have been his 84th birthday, Millikin University received a surprise from the estate of the late Herschel W. Pritchett of Niantic, Ill.
"The executor of the estate delivered a check for $500,000!" says Dave Brandon, MU's director of development. The 1950 graduate had shared with Brandon years before that he had named Millikin the residual beneficiary of his estate but the probate attorney had estimated that Millikin would receive an amount that was much less. Pritchett's gift was a fitting legacy from a quiet man of integrity who liked to do good without receiving recognition, Brandon says.
"And there is another surprise - Millikin also is slated to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 more from Pritchett's estate," Brandon says. Since Pritchett had not restricted the use of his estate proceeds, the university's board of trustees approved using them in support of the exercise science and sport campaign within "Transform MU," Millikin's $85 million capital campaign.
"Herschel was as loyal an alumnus as you would ever meet, and he would have loved to know that his accumulated capital was being reinvested into the greater Decatur community in support of a strong program like exercise science and sport," Brandon says.
Pritchett died Aug. 17, 2011. A native of Niantic, Ill., he majored in business administration at Millikin and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After graduation, Pritchett completed two years at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wis., and then entered into the family business - the State Bank of Niantic. He served 49 years at the bank, including as its president from 1980-1993. The Pritchett family had an ownership interest in the State Bank of Niantic from 1893 until 1985, when it was sold to Scott Bancshares Inc., based in Bethany, Ill.
A lifelong bachelor, Pritchett was known in his community as a kind and generous person who helped many young people appreciate the importance of saving money, Brandon says. He served several years on the Niantic-Harristown Board of Education and he and his family were such generous benefactors to Niantic that village officials named a town park and a street in honor of the Pritchetts.
Pritchett regularly attended university events, including the annual Vespers concert, cultural events and stage performances in Kirkland Fine Arts Center and home games of the Big Blue football and basketball teams. He also had the distinction of being the perennial "premiere donor" to the Millikin Fund, the university's annual effort to raise funds in support of operations.
"If it was the last week of June, you could expect to receive a letter from Herschel containing his Millikin Fund gift for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1," Brandon says, adding, "Sometimes, Herschel would deliver the gift in person, and we would have a chance to catch up on the latest Millikin news, SAE news and the like."
In recognition of Pritchett's generous estate commitment, the university will name the physical conditioning learning center in a planned new Exercise Science and Sport Pavilion in his honor. This marquee space is scheduled to occupy most of the south wing of the new facility, to be housed in the former West Towne Square Center on the corner of Oakland and Wood streets. A total of $5.7 milion is needed to acquire, renovate and equip the new facility with state-of-the-art exercise science equipment and technology.
According to Brandon, this cohesive complex with creative learning spaces will lend itself to increased performance learning opportunities by the four majors within the exercise science and sport department. Classroom instruction will be infused with technology, laboratory spaces will be designed for each major, and students will learn by doing under the auspices of a faculty member - and then "train" other Millikin students in a handson manner.
Brandon says, "Herschel made Millikin one of his charitable priorities both during his lifetime and beyond, and for that we are most grateful." ?