Above: Dr. Sally Pancrazio, former Dean of the College of Education at Illinois State University, led the drive to create an endowed scholarship in memory of her husband, Dr. James Pancrazio, former UIS professor in the Department of Human Development Counseling.
Honoring More Than His Name: The James J. Pancrazio Scholarship Fund
For 27 years, Jim Pancrazio taught in the Human Development Counseling (HDC) program at UIS (under the name Sangamon State University through most of his years).
Jim was a Founding Faculty Member of the university and, according to his wife, Sally, he would not have wanted to teach anywhere else: “He loved it here.”
Sally Pancrazio and her sons have now funded an endowed scholarship at UIS in Jim’s memory. Their contributions have been increased through the contributions of many, many of Jim’s former students, and well as colleagues, friends, and other family members who also wanted to honor this beloved professor.
We are so pleased to have the scholarship because it honors Jim’s name, his principles, his example, and—in the best sense of the word—his values. He meant a great deal to his students and to the University as a whole.
Jim’s Love for Teaching and Service
At Sangamon State University, Jim wrote and published, but most of all he loved teaching.
The lesson he cared most about, according to Sally, was his students’ ability to empathize with clients—listening and trying to understand what the person was saying, what the person was feeling, what the person meant with his or her words, and then expressing all that back to the person.
“Jim was a natural at it,” Sally says. “I could wear my hair differently, and he would never notice, but if I were upset or the kids were upset, he sensed that immediately.”
During his years as a professor, Jim also consulted with the local and surrounding schools, all of it gratis. He worked with first-line responders in the Department of Corrections and Department of Child and Family Services on basic counseling skills, understanding skills, listening, and communication skills. He ran groups for veterans (the women nurses from Vietnam made him an honorary woman—”He absolutely loved that,” says Sally).
Jim’s Commitment to Intellectual Growth and Challenge
The scholarship honors Jim’s love of learning. When he enrolled in college, he pushed the expectations of his family, and he confounded them even more by going on with his education—especially since his years in graduate school presented such a great financial challenge to the young family.
During his doctoral program, Jim’s graduate assistantship paid only $330 a month. “We could not live on that,” Sally says. Each month, she and Jim would tell each other “just one more month”… and then another…and then another.
Jim’s passion for intellectual growth kept them going. “Being in the classroom—one side or another—was his forte,” Sally says now. The financial challenges created a struggle, but never the intellectual challenge. “That was exciting!”
(It was a passion Sally has shared, by the way. She went on to earn a doctorate in secondary education from the U of I and after working for the Illinois State Board of Education for many years, she recently retired after 11 years at Illinois State University, serving as a department chair then Dean of the College of Education.)
Ultimately it’s Jim himself who will be remembered through the scholarship. Here’s what Sally thinks he would want his scholarship recipients to know about himself:
- Jim was very Italian—in the best possible way. He appreciated family. He adored his sons. He loved Italian food and good strong coffee. “He was addicted to Starbucks espresso coffee,” Sally says.
- Making the world better mattered deeply to him. When he looked back on his life, he wanted to know that in some way as an individual he had made a positive difference in people’s lives. Those of you who knew him know he succeeded.
- He had a deep appreciation for diversity of every kind—racial, gender, sexual orientation, right down the line, including (even though he was a strong Catholic) diversity of religion. “He would want recipients to be respectful of diversity in the same way,” says Sally.
Both Sally and Jim were scholarship students themselves, and remembering their hardships during graduate school gave Sally and her sons a desire to create the scholarship in Jim’s name.
“I hope the people that Jim has touched professionally,” Sally says, “and who enjoyed his class and who also value this university would help future students by contributing not only to his scholarship but to the Human Development Counseling Department at UIS. This is a way to give back and to honor their own lives while they were in graduate school—what they went through—so another student can follow them.”
Thank you so much to everyone who helped to endow the scholarship and special thanks to Sally!