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BYU announces three Mary Lou Fulton academic chairs

$15 million gift to boost teaching, research

Brigham Young University announced the creation of three, $5 million academic chairs named in honor of donor Mary Lou Fulton – one in each of three colleges: Family, Home and Social Sciences; Health and Human Performance; and Humanities.

"This gift to Brigham Young University is another example of the generosity of our wonderful friends Ira and Mary Lou Fulton," said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. "These chairs will provide students and faculty with extra resources, helping them accelerate their education and scholarship."

The Fultons began a relationship with BYU in 1999 after visiting campus and feeling a kinship with faculty, administration and students. To date, the Fultons have given more than $50 million to the university. The three new endowments bring the total number of chairs named in honor of Mary Lou to four. In February 2004, the Department of Theatre and Media Arts received the first Mary Lou Fulton Chair.

"BYU is a special place -- Ira and I feel that every time we set foot on campus," said Mary Lou. "We're just happy to be in a situation that allows us to play a role in helping students and faculty succeed."

The chairs will support students through scholarships, assistance to academic programs, internship opportunities and improved and upgraded learning equipment (see below for a "per college" breakdown). Additionally, the endowment will augment faculty support of mentored learning, boost research efforts and provide for guest lecturers.

"The Mary Lou Fulton Chair will make a significant difference in our college's ability to improve the educational experience of our students and support the scholarly work of our faculty," said David Magleby, dean of the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences. "As the largest college at BYU, we are engaged in a wide range of activities, including seeking ways to support and strengthen families worldwide. The Fultons' generous gift will make it possible for us to push forward this and other important work."

Students like senior Rebekah Fairbank are grateful for the new chairs, which will help her reach her long-term goals. Fairbank is a family history and genealogy major who needs to complete an internship before graduating and entering a master's of library science program at the University of Maryland. She says grant money she will receive from the Fulton Chair will allow her to focus more on her internship and less on finding employment to support herself while in Washington, D.C.

"I have always dreamed of being an archivist and more specifically of working with the National Archives," said Fairbank. "The scholarship provided through the Fulton Chair is going to help to fund my internship this summer with the National Archives. This is like a dream come true for me."

Sara Lee Gibb, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, said, "There is a magic in having someone believe in the value of what you do, especially to the extent that generous funds are the manifestation of that confidence. The students, in particular, seem to have an increased determination to do better, to reach further because of the funds that the Mary Lou Fulton Chair provides. Already there is a wonderful excitement as applications for support of learning across the College of Health and Human Performance are possible. I believe that this is only the beginning of the tremendous good that is building from this gift."

Van Gessel, dean of the College of Humanities said, "The Mary Lou Fulton Chair of World Languages is going to help us teach advanced courses in many less commonly taught languages, including Tagalog, Cebuano and Vietnamese. These are important languages in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but advanced training in them is virtually unavailable anywhere outside BYU. Thanks to this chair, we're going to be able to provide many more language-learning opportunities to meet the growing needs of our nation and the Church."

In addition to the four chairs, the Fultons have made contributions of impact campuswide, including purchasing one of the fastest supercomputers in American higher education (also named in honor of Mary Lou), helping to fund the new Joseph F. Smith Building and Athletic Complex and financing many student scholarships. Additionally, the Fultons have provided for improvements to the Psychology Department, the School of Technology, the Harold B. Lee Library and the Museum of Art, among others. In 2003, the university renamed its engineering college in Ira's honor to the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.


Mary Lou Fulton Chair in Health and Human Performance

  • Academic programs

  • Student performing groups

  • Scholarships

  • Mentored student learning grants

  • Human Performance Research Center Mary Lou Fulton Chair of World Languages (Humanities)

  • Advanced courses for returned missionaries

  • Student testing and assessment

  • Mentored student research

  • Study abroad and internships

  • International experts for colloquia Mary Lou Fulton Chair in Family, Home and Social Sciences

  • Mentored learning fellowships

  • Mentored learning conferences

  • Internships

  • Computing and technology

  • Alumni relations

  • Professorship

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