Eberly a beacon of support for EIU, Sigma Phi Epsilon, diversity
Dr. Charles G. Eberly is probably more well-known on EIU’s campus by his informal handles – “Chuck” or “Doc.” And since 1987, Chuck (or Doc) has been cementing his reputation as a staple of Eastern Illinois University – including the University’s mission, its promises, and its ideology of support.
Eberly first arrived on campus in January of 1987 from East Lansing, Michigan with a Ph.D. in higher education administration and a teaching emphasis in college student affairs. He was scheduled to interview with then-chair of EIU’s department of Educational Psychology and Guidance, Dr. Paul Overton. Eberly remembers Overton picking him up from the Coles County Airport and driving him to campus “in a big old Oldsmobile.” And when first they drove up over the hill along Route 16, Eberly said he vividly remembers seeing the towers of Old Main for the first time against the vibrant backdrop of winter’s orange harvest moon…and that’s precisely the moment EIU captured his heart.
Fast forward to December 2010. After a celebrated and storied career at EIU as a faculty member in Eastern’s College of Education, Dr. Eberly retired from teaching—but certainly not from service to the University.
“My main objective was to prepare EIU students for successful futures,” Eberly said. “And I’m still doing it because it gives meaning to my life.” In retirement, Eberly remains in close contact with several EIU master’s degree graduates, helping to mentor them during life after EIU and working to help them progress through their own doctoral degrees.
“It’s been interesting and engaging to review their doctoral dissertations, and to continue editing for two professional academic journals. Working with students allows me to stay focused, and it truly makes me feel alive.”
Eberly was born in McComb, Ohio in 1941 and graduated from the McComb Centralized School District in 1959. He received a B.S. in Chemistry at Bowling Green State University in 1963 and an M.S. in Education from Syracuse University in 1966. He was an instructor in Student Personnel at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh from 1966 to 1969. By 1970, he had earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, where his dissertation focused on “Critical Thinking, Attitudes and Values Associated with Fraternity Membership.” He was in institutional research there until 1987, when he joined EIU for most of his career.
A major part of Eberly’s student and professional endeavors includes a deep involvement with Sigma Phi Epsilon. He joined the fraternity as an undergrad at Bowling Green State University. He remained an active member and, in fact, was a crucial component of starting Eastern Illinois University’s own Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter in his living room in 1990. Today, Greek life professionals who earned master’s degrees under Eberly’s direction currently advise undergraduates on campuses across the country.
“It has always been very important to me that students learn about each other and about each other’s lives, and learn how to communicate with each other, together,” Eberly said. “Cultural diversity and integration are essential to our condition as human beings, and I will forever be a colossal proponent of that type of discourse. I hope the financial support I’m able to provide to EIU continues to create those opportunities for students for years to come.”
Eberly said that creating lasting connections to the campus among students and the organizations they join is equally important to him, stating that contributions to the University and to the organizations that make it unique are a vital part of any institution’s long-term success.
Citing those commitments, Eberly said higher education has given him and others like him so much, he was compelled to give back. That’s why he endowed the Eberly-Wallace Professional Development Fund in his former department, now Counseling and Higher Education, in 2011. Not only that, Eberly is a member of the EIU Foundation’s prestigious Heritage Society—a dedicated group of EIU’s most fervent supporters who have committed estate gifts to further their beneficent relationships with EIU. In fact, Eberly felt so inclined to advance EIU’s mission through philanthropy, he also became the principal supporter of the Ryland Hall Fund—a scholarship endowment through the EIU Foundation that benefits students in EIU’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity he holds so dear. “Parents today are finding it harder to support their children with their higher education dreams,” Eberly said. “That’s why it’s so essential that those who are able can support them with scholarship opportunities, and especially their presence. Neither of these are casual exchanges, they are both extremely special and unequivocally meaningful.”
“That’s why I have so enjoyed my nearly lifelong connection to Sigma Phi Epsilon,” Eberly continued thoughtfully. “Being in a fraternity is about being organized, getting things accomplished through teamwork, and presenting opportunities for leaders to emerge.”
For many, “Chuck” has been an extraordinary minister of opportunity at EIU—in his roles as a faculty member, an advisor, a mentor, and a friend. His support means a great deal to the EIU Foundation, and so much more to the countless students and families whose lives and circumstances he’s uplifted throughout his career. His generous gifts continue to demonstrate that strategic investments in the EIU Foundation are able to yield almost exponential returns.
“It’s all about support and encouragement,” he shared. “It’s about caring for those people as if they’re our own. That’s how I think of my graduate students and the undergraduates that I advise…they are my children. I’ll do all I can to support them.”
EIU’s mission statement ends with a clear direction: “Throughout their education, students refine their abilities to reason and to communicate clearly so as to become responsible citizens and leaders.”
Eberly continues to take that mission seriously, to the benefit of all those around him. He encourages anyone with similar capacities to consider doing the same by contacting the EIU Foundation today.
Credit: Bowling Green State University for additional biographical information on Dr. Eberly