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Kopinskis' gift endows professorship in computational sciences

Duane Bonifer
02/19/2019
This College file photo shows Katharine Phelps Boone and Commander Gilbert Boone with Monmouth students.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. -- A new Monmouth College endowed professorship will honor one of the College’s legendary professors and help prepare students to excel in a data-driven world.

The Commander G.E. Boone Endowed Professorship in the Computational Sciences has been established by a gift from Monmouth graduate Mark Kopinski ’79 and his wife, Deborah.

“The Commander G.E. Boone Endowed Professorship in the Computational Sciences will honor a life lived in pursuit of knowledge and beauty,” said Kopinski, who is chairman of the Monmouth College Board of Trustees. “It also encourages innovation within the curriculum by supporting faculty within fields of growing interest and importance.”

The professorship may be awarded to faculty members in mathematics, computer science, data science and statistics, in support of the College’s interdisciplinary innovation in these areas. Monmouth recently launched new majors in data science, engineering and neuroscience. The professorship provides enabling funds to support research in the faculty member’s area of interest.

Kopinski said that he and his wife decided to endow a professorship in computational sciences because “it is critical to support this important area of study.”

“Students need the tools to understand, measure and research the work they do, and the liberal arts experience they get at Monmouth gives them that opportunity,” Kopinski said.

The professorship honors the life of U.S. Navy Commander and former Monmouth faculty member Gilbert E. Boone. “Gib,” as he was known to his friends, was a person of great intellectual curiosity throughout his life. Trained as an architect, Boone was a member of the Armed Forces during World War II and the Korean War. His career culminated at the beginnings of the Cold War, when he helped train Japanese self-defense personnel in the methods of intelligence gathering.

“The Boone Endowed Professorship in Computational Sciences honors Commander Boone’s abiding curiosity, and encourages and supports similar creative and interdisciplinary thought and action by the holder of the professorship,” said Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt.

During his work in Japan, Boone and his wife, Katharine Phelps Boone ’30, developed a deep interest in Japanese art and culture. For three years, they met six hours a week with a leading Japanese dealer-consultant, who helped them acquire and organize a museum-quality collection of historical East Asian artifacts. After they returned to Katharine’s native Monmouth in 1960, they developed a teaching curriculum for the College’s East Asian Studies program in 1963. The Boones held seminars in their home library, often drawing upon the collection of artifacts.

The Boones’ extensive collection of Japanese art and artifacts of more than 3,500 pieces from the ninth to 20th century is now housed as the Boone Oriental Library and Fine Arts Collection at the Field Museum in Chicago.

“The Boones brought intellectual vitality, a love of beauty, and a sense of fun to the campus and the town,” said Kopinski, who knew the Boones when he was a Monmouth student.