The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice has established a new endowment in honor of Cynthia Coates, the late wife of department chair Dr. Neal Coates.
The Cynthia Coates Endowed Chair of Political Science and Criminal Justice is an endowment given to the department by Dr. Neal Coates and will function as an endowed professorship for a chosen faculty member within the department.
Cynthia Coates, who served as the children’s minister at Hillcrest Church of Christ, passed away in September. Dr. Coates said this gift is not only important to him but to his children and Cynthia truly loved ACU.
“It’s a generous gift,” Coates said. “Cynthia loved Abilene Christian University and she loved that her children could graduate from here. She also loved that I could work here so all five of us are very pleased that her name will be associated with ACU forever.”
Dr. Greg Straughn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said this endowment is a testament not only to Dr. Coates’ character but also his vision.
“Obviously the circumstances of losing a spouse are not anything that anyone was expecting and so Dr. Coates’s generosity in creating this legacy on behalf of his wife is a testament not only to his character but to his vision for the future of the department,” Straughn said. “That to me is impressive and humbling and inspiring.”
The requirements for the endowed professorship are still being finalized but Straughn said that the department will most likely be looking for a record of scholarly achievement as well as a commitment to academic works through publication or otherwise.
“I think that’s going to be something that the department will enjoy engaging in setting up to think about,” Straughn said.
Chris Riley, assistant professor and pre-law adviser, said this endowment is an opportunity to explore ways to help students.
“I think it just provides opportunities for us to consider ways to help students in ways that we have not been able to consider before thanks to the generosity of Dr. Coates,” Riley said. “I think it also provides a great example to our students of ways to give back to the department and inspires me as a fellow faculty member of Dr. Coates.”
Riley said that this endowment was touching when he first heard about it, reflecting on how Cynthia Coates continually shared special care and concern for students in the department.
“Throughout her life, you could see her care and concern for students at many different levels whether that be in a Sunday school room or about to graduate from college, and even in her relationships with her own kids, she has a legacy of caring for children,” Riley said. “I think because we’ve been in Cynthia’s home, we’ve seen her work with our students it makes it that much more special because as we think about the resources being used, I’m trying to honor her memory and continue on the legacy that she started in terms of just service to our students and really just caring for them.”
Cynthia Coates touched multiple lives throughout Abilene as Dr. Coates made donations to numerous organizations in Abilene in her honor.
“He made a number of gifts at the same time as the ACU endowment so this is a larger story than just our campus,” Straughn said. “It’s a wonderful and a beautiful story but that’s also a part of it too is just the legacy of generosity he displayed in giving all of those gifts.”