$1 Million gift from Joseph Walt to be used for Study Abroad Scholarships

Generations of future Simpson College students will continue to benefit from the influence and generosity of the late Dr. Joseph W. Walt, the professor emeritus of history who died in January at the age of 88.

A $1 million bequest by Walt to the College will be used to provide more than 40 scholarships each year to help cover the costs of a Simpson student’s study abroad experience.

Walt, who wrote the history of Simpson, “Beneath the Whispering Maples,” has added another chapter. Applications now are being accepted for the Dr. Joe Walt International Education Scholarships.

“Joe enjoyed helping alumni and students learn about countries around the world and to take them there – China, Egypt or Russia, to name a few,” said Cyd Dyer, the college’s librarian/archivist and one of Walt’s best friends. “He would be extremely pleased that his estate gift to Simpson established an academic endowment for study abroad scholarships to students.”

Walt left the $1 million to the college’s endowment with no strings attached. College officials agreed that the study abroad scholarships represent the perfect way to honor Walt’s memory, and the Board of Trustees agreed.

“Joe was such an important part of Simpson’s past,” said Bob Lane, Vice President for College Advancement. “This wonderful gift will ensure that he is always a part of Simpson’s future, too. Joe spent his entire career teaching students to appreciate other countries and cultures. His life’s work will continue.”

Walt taught at Simpson from 1955 to 1994 and remained a significant presence on campus after his retirement. Lane said plans are proceeding to invite Walt’s many friends and former students, including those who traveled with him, to contribute to the scholarship fund in his memory.

“We think this will be something the Simpson community will really rally behind,” he said. “Joe touched a lot of lives here.”

Jay Wilkinson, director of international education, said the scholarships will be an enormous help for Simpson students who want to explore other cultures.

“A number of students have told me that they’d love to be able to study abroad, but that they just can’t afford to do so,” Wilkinson said. “I hope that with these new scholarships, more students will be able to realize their goal of an overseas study experience.”

In the past, Simpson has offered low-cost loans to enable students to study abroad, he added, “but the new scholarships are huge because they don’t have to be paid back.”

Scholarships will be available both for short-term (fewer than four weeks), semester-long and year-long programs. The amount of the scholarships will vary from $500 to as much as $4,000.

There are two ways in which students can demonstrate eligibility. The first is to have a Simpson cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or above, or a high school GPA of at least 3.5 if the applicant has not yet earned a Simpson GPA.

Students also can be deemed eligible if they demonstrate financial need. All Walt Scholarship applications will be reviewed and funding decisions made by a team of college faculty and administrators.

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