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EIU Media Relations

EIU Pays Tribute to Artist, Philanthropist Jan Tarble


The Tarble Arts Center and Eastern Illinois University pay tribute to the late Jan Tarble (pictured on left with former EIU President Dr. William Perry), who passed away on May 1, 2024, at the age of ninety-five.

Established over forty years ago as a resource serving EIU and the eastern Illinois community, the Tarble Arts Center is the only facility on campus built entirely through donated funds. With the help of sustained support from the Tarble Family Foundation, it has evolved into a museum accredited by the American Association of Museums that exhibits the work of acclaimed international artists while remaining a superior institution of learning that is accessible, raises the quality of life in the community, and celebrates the creativity in all of us.

In the words of EIU President Jay Gatrell, “Jan’s passion for the arts, unique vision and philanthropy has had a profound impact on EIU’s campus and across east central Illinois. Her legacy lives on in the transformational mission of the Tarble Arts Center that will continue to enhance the student experience and quality of life across the region.”

The Tarble family’s legacy of generosity began with Jan’s parents, Newton and Pat Tarble. The couple initially gave $1 million toward the construction of the $1.4 million center that opened in 1982, and the Tarble Family Foundation continued to support the Tarble Arts Center with another $2 million in 2000 to assist with the building’s expansion project.

Jan Tarble recalled that her father—an EIU alumnus—credited the school’s accessibility for making it possible to continue his education at a university. "My father felt it was his obligation to pay back for his opportunity," she said.

The founding mission for the arts center focused on “bringing arts to the people” and reflected the business model that Newton Tarble developed for Snap-On tools, which increased accessibility by bringing products directly to consumers.

Having grown up in Clark County, Illinois, Newton Tarble recognized the ways rural communities were underserved by the arts, and he wanted to make sure art and artists were present in the lives of residents outside of the urban centers of Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles, where he and his family spent their adult lives.

Jan Tarble continued her family’s generosity, giving another $3 million gift in 2015 through the Tarble Family Foundation. This allowed for the construction of the Tarble’s impressive Education Lab, which freed up the former classroom to become the Collection Lab—a secure space for students and scholars to study the museum’s growing collection. The gift also established endowed funds to provide salary and support resources for these spaces and ensured sustained leadership for the Tarble Arts Center by inaugurating a $1 million endowed directorship.

“What Jan Tarble and her family have made possible for the people of east central Illinois is remarkable, and there is no way to adequately quantify the impact she’s had as our benefactor," says Jennifer Seas, Director of the Tarble Arts Center. "When Newton and Pat Tarble imagined a way to give back to this community, they chose to build an arts center in honor of their daughter, who was an accomplished artist herself. Through Jan’s continued philanthropy, the center has grown into a state-of-the-art museum providing ambitious and innovative programming that is free of cost, lives beyond the walls of the museum, and touches the lives of so many people.” 

The Tarble family was named "Outstanding Philanthropist" by the EIU Foundation in 1993 and 2002, and Jan Tarble received an honorary degree from EIU in 2007.



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Media Relations
Josh Reinhart,
Public Information Coordinator

Booth House
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920

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