Former Professor Duncan Eaves Remembered With Endowed Award

by | Apr 26, 2019 | Features, Gifts

Professor Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves in a newspaper clipping from the 1960s.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas students and faculty from the Department of English in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences will have a new endowed award available to them, thanks to a $100,000 Campaign Arkansas gift from alumnus Stephen H. Dill of Kansas City, Missouri.

The gift is named in honor of former professor Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves, who spent nearly 40 years with the university, and inspired Dill to study and teach novels as a professor later in life.

“We are profoundly grateful for this gift from Dr. Stephen Dill, not only because it will tremendously help our students and faculty, but because it honors one of our department’s most well-known and fondly remembered educators, Duncan Eaves,” said Dorothy Stephens, chair of the Department of English.

Dill describes his experience at the university as “never stuffy or pretentious.” He said, “It lifted education above ‘job training’ status and promoted a higher level of understanding. People didn’t go there to impress someone; they wanted to learn.”

Duncan Eaves, who taught the 18th-Century English Novel course in the Department of English, made the greatest impression on Dill during Dill’s time as a student. Dill describes him as “a very interesting man and teacher” and “the only person I ever knew who had four names and used them all.”

Duncan Eaves joined the University of Arkansas in 1949 as an assistant professor and was named a University Professor in 1984. He worked closely with Ben D. Kimpel, and the two of them co-edited a biography of Samuel Richardson, considered by many scholars to have been the first British novelist.

“Duncan helped generations of students become enthusiastic about 18th century novels. He was one of the most erudite faculty members we have ever had, and there are many wonderful memories of him in the department,” Stephens said.

The subject of novels in Duncan Eaves’s class was Dill’s foremost interest, and he describes it as stimulating.

“He really knew his subject and was very passionate about his discipline, but he also had a sense of humor about it,” Dill said. “I chose to teach novels as a specialty because of him. He kept me going in my field, because his enthusiasm for his subject was contagious. I remember him fondly.”

Dill graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Education, with an emphasis in English, from the College of Education and Health Professions and earned a doctorate from Fulbright College. He is a professor emeritus of the University of South Dakota.

As Dill decided how he wanted to give back to the university, he thought of his former professor and chose to name an endowed award in his honor by making a planned gift.

The Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves Endowed Award will support both students and faculty in alternating years. Student recipients must be enrolled full-time in the Department of English and can be undergraduates in their second year of the program or later. Graduate students are also eligible. The student award will provide funding for school-related expenses, and the faculty award will support quality teaching in the Department of English. Both student and faculty recipients must be passionate about and exhibit commitment and enthusiasm for the department. 

“I hope this gift will improve the quality of education, and a good education requires both strong students and strong teachers,” Dill said. “Hopefully, the awards will improve both sides of that equation.”

Dill is a member of the Towers of Old Main, a giving society for the university’s most generous benefactors.

About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the ongoing capital campaign for the University of Arkansas to raise private gift support for the university’s academic mission and other key priorities. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1.25 billion to support academic and need-based scholarships, technology enhancements, new and renovated facilities, undergraduate, graduate and faculty research, study abroad opportunities and other innovative programs. The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines as it works to fulfill its public land-grant mission to serve Arkansas and beyond as a partner, resource and catalyst.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

A version of this story also appeared in the U of A’s Newswire publication.

Jennifer Holland

Director of Development Communications, 
University Relations 

479-575-7346, //