Professor’s Legacy Touches Students

February 26, 2024

A little-known fund established by a longtime professor, back in 1994, has provided cultural enrichment for generations of Eastern Eagles.

The Florence and Earle Stewart Endowment, established by Professor Earle Stewart and his wife, supports the pursuit of knowledge, providing as much as $200 to purchase up to two books (not to include textbooks) or tickets to enjoy culturally enriching events. Though Earle and Florence are deceased, they have enriched the lives of more than 2,000 students over the years.

“It’s wonderful to see in a world where people aren’t reading as much as they used to that students still have an interest in books and going to cultural events,” says Gwen Cash-James, assistant vice president of EWU Academic Affairs and manager of the award process.

Earle Stewart joined the faculty of Eastern Washington College of Education in 1957, working at the university for 31 years before retiring and making a gift to establish the endowment. When he passed away, Stewart left most of his estate to the fund.

Cash-James, a longtime Eagle who earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1995 and a master’s degree in literature in 1997, received two beautiful hardcover books as an undergraduate that she cherishes to this day.

Back then, Cash-James and her husband were students raising a young family. “We didn’t have a lot of money. Being able to buy a book, especially a nice quality hardback in my discipline, it meant the world because so much of what we were doing then was, of course, buying little kids’ clothes and little kids’ books,” she recalls.

Gwen Cash-James

Thirteen students recently received awards. Notable requests, she says, include a book on botanical drawing, an annotated book of Shakespeare plays, a book on the history of psychoanalysis, and tickets to the musical “6.”

Emma Narkmon, 19, who did Running Start and is now a senior in the Children’s Studies Program, received “Yumi and the Nightmare Painter,” a book written by Brandon Sanderson, and “The Sword of Kygen” by author M.L. Wang.

“I’ve always really enjoyed books. I guess being a woman of color, I’ve always wanted to see myself represented in books,” says Narkmon of Sammamish, Washington, adding that the books support personal enrichment while sending a message that she is valued outside of the classroom.

Ashley Ogle, a 22-year-old biology major from Spokane, says books written by philosopher Sri Aurobindo support her own personal growth.

“As a biology student, I’m reading lots of research papers every day. It gives me an outlet to pursue something else other than my degree,” says Ogle, who describes the books as “beautiful.”

Ogle, who pays for her own education through student loans and a part-time job supervising children for Spokane Public Schools, says, “I’m really grateful for this scholarship.”

Please consider making your own impact for EWU students.

 *Visit EWU/Give to learn of the many options for giving.

*If you’d like to talk with someone about options for leaving your own unique EWU legacy, please contact Courtney Gray, senior director of gift planning, at cgray37@ewu.edu or call 509.559.2082.