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Paying It Forward: Fellows Gear Gifts to Repay Stipends

Dr. Fred D. Baldwin WF ’58 , left, and Dr. William Bissell CN ’96

Across all Woodrow Wilson programs, Fellows know the impact a fellowship can have on a career or a life. Fellowship support can free up resources to obtain the degree, embark on the research trip, or finish the book. Increasingly, Fellows who have made excellent use of the opportunities their fellowships afforded want to make sure others have those same opportunities.

“The Newcombe provided generous support for my work at a critical juncture,” says William Bissell CN ’96. “It really served as a kind of start-up funding that allowed me to launch a full career of research and writing.”

Dr. Bissell is a professor of anthropology and sociology at Lafayette College and co-editor of the recent book Social Memory, Silenced Voices, and Political Struggle: Remembering the Revolution in Zanzibar. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1999.

Fred D. Baldwin WF ’58 says the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship made it possible to leave his East Texas home for Princeton, where he completed his Ph.D. in American history. After three years of university teaching, he took a post in the Johnson administration, working with one of LBJ’s signature poverty programs.

“The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship created academic opportunities that neither I nor my family could have come close to affording,” reflects Dr. Baldwin. “I’m grateful, knowing how my graduate school training opened doors for me.”

These two Fellows, emphasizing the importance of giving back to the Foundation that facilitated their early work, have pledged gifts that pay back the equivalent of their stipend amount. Their gifts will help support some of today’s Fellows as they begin their own careers.

“Reciprocity is very important in anthropology,” says Dr. Bissell. “I feel lucky to be able to give a little something back so that future generations of students might have the same—or better!—opportunities that came my way. It is all about opening up possibilities for those who are coming up after us.”

After his career as a freelance writer, Dr. Baldwin and his wife are making decisions about the future. He plans to make WW Annual Fund gifts over the next few years, with the intent to match the current value of his 1958 Woodrow Wilson Fellowship stipend:

“I think that WW’s no-strings fellowships for bright young people are a priceless gift to society that can’t be measured in dollars.”

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This story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Fellowship, the newsletter of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. To see the full newsletter, click here.


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