Webster defines a philanthropist as a person who engages in an active effort to promote human welfare, especially as shown by gifts to charitable or humanitarian institutions. In 1986, Dr. Jesse Peel of Atlanta, Georgia, established the J. Woolard Peel University Scholars Award, along with his mother, Helen Peel of Everetts, North Carolina, in order to memorialize his father. Jesse and his mother were among the first ten families to help establish what is now known as the EC Scholars program at East Carolina University.
Woolard Peel graduated from North Carolina State University, and Helen attended Louisburg College. Jesse completed his undergraduate work and medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, Jesse and Helen decided to establish this scholarship at East Carolina University because Woolard often said ECU was the future of eastern North Carolina. They had also heard that the EC Scholars program did a good job of connecting the donors with the students who received their awards.
Jesse and Helen both got involved with the Scholars Selection weekend events. Jesse annually served as a judge, and Helen made personal presentations to scholarship recipients at their high schools' Award Days. The Peels' involvement led to continued happiness and deepened their interest in ECU.
In 1995, they increased the corpus of the J. Woolard Peel University Scholars Award, and Helen established a retained life estate on three of her family farms in Martin County to fund a distinguished professorship. Helen passed away in June 1995, but her legacy lives on through her gifts and her son. The three farms in Helen's retained life estate were sold, and the funds were used to create the J. Woolard and Helen Peel Distinguished Professorship in Religious Studies. It will be endowed at $500,000 in July 2007, and the first Peel Professor will be on campus for the fall of 2008. The sale of the three farms also added $150,000 to the J. Woolard Peel University Scholars Award, bringing its value to about $250,000.
In addition, Helen's estate made a bequest to the Medical Foundation of ECU to set up a core competencies program in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The program is being developed by Dr. Christi Isler, Dr. David Weismiller, and Dr. Virginia Hardy. Jesse has promised more funds for this project. At present, ECU's Health Sciences Campus is collaborating with various units on Main Campus to develop this program further, including the Medical Foundation and University Development. Jesse's involvement with ECU continues to grow. He is now a member of the Chancellor's Diversity Council, chaired by Provost Jim Smith and Vice Chancellor of Student Life Dr. Marilyn Sheerer. As often as he can, he travels from his Atlanta home to attend meetings.
Although it seems almost impossible, Jesse's vision and commitment have continued to grow. He has set up a retained life estate planned gift, as his mother did. In this type of contribution, the donor makes an irrevocable commitment to ECU Foundation Inc. and receives a current income tax deduction while continuing to enjoy and use the property until death. After the donor dies, the property is either sold or utilized for a designated purpose to benefit the university. The life estate on Jesse's properties, five more family farms in Martin County, has a value of approximately $1 million. This will create two distinguished professorships and provide unrestricted funds to support the newly established Institute for Social Diversity for East Carolina.
The Dr. Jesse R. Peel Distinguished Professorship in Social Diversity in the Department of Sociology will help attract and retain an outstanding faculty member for that department within Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. The Dr. Jesse R. Peel Distinguished Professorship in Social Diversity in the College of Education will enable that college to attract and retain experts within the field of education. The Institute for Social Diversity Fund will provide support through the Department of Sociology. The department recognizes that resolving social and ethnic diversity concerns between different classes of individuals and between women and men; issues revolving around differences in sexual orientation, age, and religion; and concern for those with disabilities are all at the foundation of a comprehensive understanding and enrichment of those expanding populations.
Jesse's generosity will add to the quality of leadership and teaching in the Department of Sociology and the College of Education. Funding for the Institute for Social Diversity will increase awareness in the student population about the importance of diversity and understanding within the university community. The multipronged approach that Jesse has funded will increase the ability of the ECU community to exchange ideas on these important social issues that ultimately improve human welfare. This improvement of human welfare will serve our faculty, staff, students, and region well in the future.
Jesse is not just a donor; Jesse is a philanthropist.
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.