AU as a family legacy
In 1946, Bill Giesler BA ’50 made a decision that has thus far influenced the lives of three generations — he came to Anderson University. His son, Jim BA ’76, expanded his father’s influence by establishing a legacy scholarship in his parents’ names to encourage future generations of other AU alumni families to come to Anderson.
From Jamestown, N.Y., Bill came to AU to study theology. “Back in 1946 when I arrived, the facilities were very basic, but the commitment of the instructors was extremely high,” he says. “That was the strength of the university, and that’s what I appreciated the most. There were so many professors I admired and who inspired me.”
Bill and his wife, Catherine, spent more than 20 years in ministry, pastoring churches in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida.
From the day their son, Jim, was born, Bill says, “I had dreams of him going to Anderson.” But by the time Jim reached college age, he had other ideas and went to a larger state school in Florida instead of AU.
“I was having a good time,” says Jim, “but I wasn’t accomplishing very much.”
When Jim realized he needed to get serious about his education, he went to his dad for advice. Bill suggested they visit AU over the summer; Bill would attend the Church of God camp meeting, and Jim would check out the school.
Interested in accounting and business administration, Jim was encouraged to stop by Dr. Glenn Falls’ office. Falls sat down with Jim, looked over his transcript, and sketched out a plan for finishing his degree at AU.
“I got more attention from a professor I had never met before than from anybody on the faculty or in the advising office at my other university. It made a huge impression on me,” says Jim. He completed his degree in a little over a year. “I felt connected to the school through my family and so coming up here for those last 15 months was like coming home.”
But the impact of AU on the Giesler family didn’t stop there. On another summer visit to AU, Bill told his 13-year-old granddaughter, Kristin, that if she came to AU, he would help pay for it. Despite the overwhelming encouragement from her family, Kristin says the decision to come to AU was her own and it’s one she hasn’t regretted.
“Anderson University more than prepared me for the professional world,” says Kristin, who graduated from the Falls School of Business in 2003. “But the people are what made my college experience worthwhile.”
Jim attests to the quality of education his family has received at AU. “Both my daughter and I had what I consider very good educations that were specific to our field, but at the same time we were in an environment that encouraged and supported the things we believed in spiritually. There are very few places in my mind where that can be accomplished.”
Jim now lives in Florida with businesses in California and Florida. His business interests over the years have grown and done well. He and his wife, Beverly, have decided to give back to the university and at the same time honor his parents for a lifetime of faithfulness and contributions. Jim and Beverly have established an endowed fund at AU in Bill and Catherine’s name. The fund provides scholarships to students whose parents are AU alumni.
“I never understood why this institution meant so much to my dad until it changed my life,” says Jim. “My dad is extraordinarily proud of the fact that there are two generations already that have followed him to Anderson University. I couldn’t think of anything that I could have done that would have been more meaningful to him.
— Deborah Lilly, Excerpt from 2006 Donor Report