A donation of $ 500,000 from Barbara Efaw ’59 and her family was honored by the action of the Board of Directors on Friday May 7th. In recognition of the family’s generosity, the College of Education’s new Student Success Center will be named the Barbara and Larry Efaw Center for Educator Excellence. The center should open in the spring semester of 2022 and will be hosted in the Degarmo room.
Barbara and her late husband, Larry Efaw ’56, MS ’59, have been staunch supporters of the university since graduating from Illinois State Normal University. Barbara graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Larry earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business teacher education.
“My husband has loved saying all his life, ‘I wouldn’t be where I am without the ISU,’” recalls Barbara.
Larry came to UNIS Cambridge, where he had no intention of going to college. His high school principal stepped in and Larry applied to UIS just in time to enroll. Once on campus, he got a job as an assistant to the Dean of Men Emeritus Ralph Linkins, who became Larry’s mentor. Larry was active on campus, as president of the College Club and the senior class of 1956.
After graduating, Larry served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant before teaching business classes at Atlanta High School. Barbara also taught in Atlanta and Bloomington until the birth of their son David in 1965, and then their daughter, Diane (Efaw) Gunz, in 1971.
In 1959, Larry joined the Library Book Selection Service, a non-profit organization that reviewed books for school libraries. He served the organization faithfully until his retirement in 1999.
David, the son of Barbara and Larry, oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Bloomington, is proud of the family’s contribution. “My father’s starting salary was $ 3,500 per year and my mother’s was $ 3,200 per year. And when they got married, they only had $ 100 between them, ”David said. “So when our family donates $ 500,000 to ISU, it’s pretty amazing.”
“I never thought we could do this,” Barbara said of the Visionary Giving. “That’s wonderful.”
The Efaws are motivated to give other students the access to the education that Larry enjoyed as a first generation student. In 2004, they created the Larry and Barbara Efaw Scholarship Fund to provide financial support to future educators.
Junior elementary education student Erica Bobrowski said receiving the Larry and Barbara Efaw scholarship relieved financial stress. “Any financial support I have helps my family a lot,” she said. “The scholarship allowed me to focus more on my learning and future goals.”
The family hope that the Barbara and Larry Efaw Center for Excellence in Educators will help other students who need additional support.
“We are extremely honored to receive the gift from the Efaws. This will have a huge impact on future Redbird educators for many years to come, enabling us to provide even more academic, social, emotional and pedagogical support to help our students persevere in their dream of becoming educators, ”said James Wolfinger, dean of the College of Education.
David knows his father would be proud of the legacy their family has created at ISU with their donation.
“My dad enjoyed everything he won so much. My parents always believed in giving back, ”he said.
For more information on College of Education support, visit Giving.IllinoisState.edu/opportunities/college-education.