>>By Brittany Hickey
$1 million has been donated to APSU by Lars Eriksson, owner of Crankshaft Rebuilders, Inc. He gave the gift in honor of his late wife, APSU alumna and teacher Martha Dickerson Eriksson.
“Future histories of this university will distinguish Austin Peay from before the Eriksson gift and after it,” university President Tim Hall said before unveiling the span of Eriksson’s donation, the largest in APSU’s history.
The College of Education – now the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education – will see $330,000 worth of scholarships given to upperclassmen and graduate students studying to be math and science teachers for the first three years of the program. The scholarship recipients will be called the Eriksson Scholars.
Eriksson has also pledged to continue the yearly gift of $330,000 for the rest of his life and has also created a $10 million estate gift which will form an endowment that will allow the scholarship to continue as long as APSU’s doors are open.
Hall called the donation “transformational,” and students can now see evidence of the transformation on the faces of Claxton, the STEM center, and one of the new residence halls. Claxton bears the name of the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education, the STEM center has been renamed in honor of Eriksson’s relative and Clarksville teacher, now called the Jack Hunt STEM Center, and one of the new residence halls will be called the Martha Dickerson Eriksson Residence Hall.
The unveiling was attended by local politicians, APSU staff, faculty and students. Eriksson kept his comments short, and finished with a simple wish for the current scholarship winners: “Good luck on becoming great teachers.”
Hall spoke on the “new math” of higher education, where students bear the weight of the cost of education and leave school with a mass of debt, in Hall’s words a new kind of “graduation gift.” Eriksson’s gift will lift that weight for some students at APSU.
Headline updated on 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.