November 01, 2010
by Matt McKinney '13
It has been nearly eight decades since Eleanor Williamson Stellyes Largent '36 left the Knox College campus, yet her passion for the college remains strong.
A longtime donor to the college, the well-traveled Mrs. Largent often has spoken of "the importance of American students being better informed about international business, foreign relations and global competition." Over the years, her gifts have provided scholarships and internships for Knox students studying overseas.
Thanks to a generous estate commitment from Mrs. Largent, the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies now bears her name. Members of the Knox community formally recognized her during a dedication ceremony October 22, 2010, at the Center.
Mrs. Largent hopes that with the help of her gifts, future Knox students will be able to gain a greater understanding of the world, while better connecting global issues with their field of study.
"Her generosity brings a renewed vitality to this enterprise," said Michael Schneider, the Center's director and a Knox professor of history. "We believe the future of international education at Knox will be as exciting and unpredictable as the ever-changing global society we aim to study."
According to Karen Hawkinson, the Center's coordinator, "many program providers are eager to have Knox students participate in their programs because they are diligent and well-prepared."
Almost 50 percent of Knox students study off-campus before they graduate, with a choice of 30 off-campus programs located in 19 countries, as well as the United States.
Mrs. Largent's latest gift to the Center will be used to:
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Mrs. Largent first came to Knox in 1932. She transferred from Knox with her future husband as he pursued a career in medicine, but at age 96, she still wishes she had stayed. Mrs. Largent retains fond memories of college, including the individual attention she received from her Knox professors and the lifelong friendships she made while on campus.
Mrs. Largent, a 1936 graduate of the University of Chicago, became executive vice president and comptroller of Los Angeles-based Century Spring Company, which she owned along with her husband. She also became a very active philanthropist, providing scholarships and internships to Knox students involved with international study, and contributing to other charities in California.
"I have grown to know Mrs. Largent as a gracious yet very independent woman who bleeds integrity and is a very wonderful philanthropist to Knox and others," said Beverly Holmes, vice president for advancement at Knox.
Jan Koran '71, chair of the Knox College Board of Trustees, recalled Mrs. Largent's wide variety of interests and expertise in wine when the two first met in California in 2007.
"One of the things I loved about her, along with most Knox graduates, was her interest in continuing to explore new things," Koran said at the dedication ceremony. "This center is in line with her life's commitment to global understanding, and we thank Eleanor for her work and her commitment to Knox."