Bevingtons give Press a gift for emerging authorsBy Jennifer Carnig
The number of vocations in which professionals love what they do so much that they turn around and offer their employers gifts is few and far between. But after a lifetime of service to the University, David and Peggy Bevington did just that. The couple recently gave to the University Press a $100,000 gift for the publication of first books by emerging authors.
Both of the Bevingtons have dedicated their professional lives to the University. Peggy Bevington, an expert in early childhood education, retired from the Laboratory Schools in 2003, after nearly three decades of teaching nursery school. David Bevington, the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Humanities and the College, retired in October after teaching at the University for 38 years. But they both wanted to do more, so they created a fund to help the Press continue to publish works by young scholars.
David Bevington, now a world-renowned authority on Shakespeare and English dram, actually credits a similar fund at the Harvard University Press with helping to launch his career. Harvard Press agreed to publish Bevington’s second book in 1968 before his name carried much weight, and was able to do so with the help of a fund established by a retired senior professor.
“It struck me as such a wonderful thing, I was eager to do the same,” he said.
The Bevingtons’ gift will assist the Press in publishing books deemed financially challenging, such as highly-specialized monographs or manuscripts by younger scholars who may not yet carry a name recognition that results in book sales. When publishing specialty books, Bevington said, a small amount of money can make the critical difference in determining if an author’s ideas are allowed into the public sphere or not.
“Our hope is that our gift will help encourage others to add to the Press endowment,” he said. “I really think the University of Chicago Press is the premier academic press in the United States, and so to contribute to that is a joy. It is supporting the scholarly mission right at the heart of the University.”
The Bevingtons gift was a welcome one at the Press, which is working to build its base of supporters. It is one of the largest gifts the Press has ever received from a family.
“David and Peggy Bevington’s generous gift springs from recognition that young scholars need encouragement and support not just from individuals but from our great institutions,” said Paula Duffy, Director of the Press. “We hope that through the Bevington Fund and the establishment of an endowment, we can continue to encourage young authors to view Chicago as the best possible home for their important work.”