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Brown Ink Society Memorializes Professor’s Kindness


Photo credit: Courtesy of the Brown Ink Society

Written by: Communicator StaffApril 21, 2018

Written By: Bernadette Becker

It all started with one man. Dr. Steve Hollander, a professor of English and linguistics. He was known to many as a generous leader and excellent teacher; and his personal habit of giving money to students in financial crisis inspired the founding of the Brown Ink Society.

Psychology professor, Dr. David Young, a friend of Hollander, was one who helped start the Brown Ink Society in 2000, following Hollander’s death.

The Society’s name is rooted in Hollander’s habit of always writing in brown ink, oftentimes correcting various signs and menus all around Fort Wayne, according to Young.

Dr. Michael Downs, a professor of political science, lead the effort to found the organization, before his own unexpected death in 2001.

“We loved [Hollander] so much, that we really wanted to keep his spirit around and [founding the Society] was one way of doing it,” Young said.

The Brown Ink Society has given out over $105,000 to 394 students in need since it began giving grants in 2002. Grants can be up to $500 for a student, and are not intended to cover recurring expenses such as tuition, books or supplies, according to the Society.

“The IPFW faculty and staff who established the organization did such great work. Most of them have since retired, and a few, have unfortunately passed away.” Dr. Ann Livschiz, a professor of history and current President of the Society, said. “It is up to us–current faculty and staff–to continue their great work.”

Faculty and staff recommend students experiencing emergencies to the fund, and as Young explained, the Society can sometimes get students money in as soon as 24 hours after the recommendation is made. The goal is to not disrupt students education, based on circumstances out of their control, Young said.

“This organization offers a helping hand to students who fall on hard times. It is a good thing to do. It is the right thing to do,” Livschiz said. “And, it is a way we, as an institution, can tangibly show our students that we see them, we care about them, we understand that they have lives outside the classroom that often impact what they are able to do in the classroom.”

Students experiencing hardship should speak a faculty member, who can recommend their case to the Brown Ink Society Board. Student recipients are given money as soon as possible and their names are not published or publicized, in order to respect their privacy. Situations in the past that have garnered grants include: unexpected car battery problems, medical expenses, sudden loss of housing, etc, according to Young.

Students are eligible to receive only one grant a semester, but can receive a grant multiple times if necessary, according to the Society.

The Brown Ink Society does not have major foundational funding, so it’s work is only made possible through donations, which are tax-deductible. Board members for the society are all volunteers, so funds are not used for administrative costs.

Every year there is one major event, an auction to raise funds for the Society, usually around the end of the year; besides the auction, price of admittance is another way to fund the society.

In order to honor the founders of the Society, Dr. Audrey Ushenko, a professor of fine arts, is currently creating a painting of Hollander and those who created the Brown Ink Society. The painting was commissioned by a previous president of the Brown Ink Board, Carol Sternberger.

The painting will hang in the Liberal Arts building because the founders were mostly from the College of Arts and Sciences, according to Livschiz.

“I am so proud to be associated with this organization, and to help continue the legacy of what great IPFW faculty and staff established,” Livschiz said.

For those who wish to donate visit: http://bit.ly/BrownInkGift  (case sensitive website)

For more information about the society visit: http://bit.ly/BrownInkSociety


Words from Brown Ink Recipients:

“I am profoundly grateful for your organization’s generosity toward IPFW students in need. I am a single mother in my final semesters of earning my degree, and have faced multiple extenuating emotional and financial challenges this year. Your graciously donated funds have allowed me to continue in spite of those obstacles.”

“Thank you so much for your kindness and understanding in my time of need. With this scholarship I was able to pull myself up a little bit and take some of the stress of life off my shoulders. This is a great thing you are doing and it really does give a boost of hope when I was struggling.”

“My family and I would like to thank you so much for your help earlier this semester. I didn’t have health insurance and I needed medical care and you gave me the funds to not only see a doctor but also to get an antibiotic. Without your help, I would have missed much more school and fallen behind.”

“I am a first generation student pursuing a BS. By awarding me the Brown Ink Society Grant, you have lightened my financial burden and stress regarding my medical situation. My attention can now be focused back on my classes. Thank you.”