Barry McNamara  |   Published August 03, 2021

$1 Million Gift

Commitment from trustee Mark Taylor ’78 pushes ‘Light This Candle’ campaign past $66 million.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A $1 million commitment from a Monmouth College trustee will benefit both the students and faculty of the liberal arts college by providing funds to develop young faculty and support student tutors.

MARK TAYLOR: Trustee's $1 million gift will support junior faculty development and student su... MARK TAYLOR: Trustee's $1 million gift will support junior faculty development and student support services.Trustee Mark Taylor of Houston, a 1978 Monmouth graduate, made his alma mater the beneficiary of his retirement account to support three areas: an endowment for junior faculty development; an endowment for student support services; and an unrestricted amount to support the College’s greatest needs.

The gift raises the College’s Light This Candle campaign total to $66,375,281 – just below 90% of its goal to raise a minimum of $75 million for the Monmouth Endowment by Dec. 31, 2022.

An associate general counsel for Citigroup Energy in Houston, Taylor has been a member of the College’s Board of Trustees since 2001, and he chairs its Academic Affairs Committee.

“In my role as chair, I’ve watched the progress that faculty make during their careers, particularly during those early important years,” said Taylor. “I’m aware of the fact that people don’t necessarily arrive at Monmouth as full-fledged, established professors, and experts in their field. They need to develop themselves, and there’s often not a lot of money for that development just floating around.”

A young professor who developed during Taylor’s time as a student was the late Richard “Doc” Kieft, a chemist who joined the College in 1975 and went on to become a beloved faculty member during his 31-year career at Monmouth. A chemistry major, Taylor helped interview Kieft when he was hired.

“I’m aware of the fact that people don’t necessarily arrive at Monmouth as full-fledged, established professors, and experts in their field. They need to develop themselves, and there’s often not a lot of money for that development just floating around.” Mark Taylor


“He was always there, always around,” said Taylor. “I didn’t have him for a class, but he became the faculty adviser of my fraternity, ZBT (Zeta Beta Tau). He was a great friend of mine until the day he died.”

Taylor said that faculty members such as Kieft gave him an experience he believes he wouldn’t have had at a larger school.

“I loved the fact that the faculty got to know you,” he said. “You couldn’t not show up for class. In some of my upper-level courses, there were just three or four students. … I loved the individual attention that students got from faculty.”


From chemistry to law school

As Taylor moved through Monmouth, he realized he might not want to become a chemist, so he added a major in government to prepare for law school, which he completed at the University of Michigan.

“After I’d only been in law school a short time, I could tell it would’ve been a completely different and sub-optimal experience if I’d gone to a larger school for my undergraduate degree,” he said. “At Michigan, I was a TA (teaching assistant) in the chemistry department, since I had a degree in chemistry, and they were short. The undergraduates could talk to me, but they couldn’t talk to their professors. But at Monmouth, you’d say hello to professors as you passed on the sidewalk.”

“After I’d only been in law school a short time, I could tell it would’ve been a completely different and sub-optimal experience if I’d gone to a larger school for my undergraduate degree.” Mark Taylor


Monmouth also stood out to Taylor for its many involvement opportunities, and he capitalized on them. In addition to being in ZBT, he was on the staff of the student newspaper, was the parliamentarian for student government, worked on theatre lighting, sang in the chorus and played in the bagpipe band.

The endowment for student support services will benefit students in several ways, including providing extra funds for those who serve as tutors.

“When I was a student, one of the things that helped me was being compensated for some of the things I did, like the theatre work,” he said. “That extra money came in handy. But you can only pay students if there’s money there to pay them, and this fund will help with that.”


It’s the people

Taylor said that it’s the people who make Monmouth the college it is today. But just like the faculty has completely changed since he was a student in the 1970s, he said the College will change again in a few decades.

“The people who work at Monmouth make a great impact on each other and on the students, yet those people come and go,” he said. “The institution continues to survive and thrive throughout the years because of gifts from people who are able to make them, and I’m happy to do my part.”

He’s especially happy because of the endowed nature of his gift.

“The Light This Candle campaign has a strong focus on endowment,” he said. “It’s not one gift, and it’s gone. These gifts will continue to give back to the school. I’m very happy to give in a way that goes to endowed funds. … It was unbelievably easy to set up this gift, and I didn’t even have to go to an attorney to change my will. I simply made the College a beneficiary of my IRA investment fund.”

“Utilizing his retirement account provided both a simple and a tax-savvy way of approaching a deferred commitment. But I was especially pleased that Mark considered many vital areas with his support.” Hannah Maher


Light This Candle will significantly bolster Monmouth’s endowment while focusing specifically on four objectives, including creating more opportunities for faculty and staff support and academic innovation, which Taylor’s gift supports (the College is receiving a portion of Taylor’s gift now so that current faculty will benefit). The other objectives are increasing scholarships and financial aid; adding to a capital improvements fund that supports campus infrastructure; and creating a stronger financial base for the College by building an even stronger culture of philanthropy.

“Building our endowment for the support and development of faculty members will forever be crucial,” said Monmouth Vice President for Development and College Relations Hannah Maher. “It helps us recruit and retain top talent, allowing them to continue their scholarly work. In addition, the gift for student support services ensures we have resources available to see our students all the way to graduation, providing mentoring and tutoring services for them to thrive academically. Finally, the unrestricted support to address the future most pressing needs for Monmouth will provide for great flexibility when Mark’s gift is realized well into the future.”

Continued Maher: “It was a pleasure to work with Mark as he determined he wanted to provide for Monmouth in his estate plans. Utilizing his retirement account provided both a simple and a tax-savvy way of approaching a deferred commitment. But I was especially pleased that Mark considered many vital areas with his support.”

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