0 Professor Emeritus Richard Eckley standing on campus in the fall.

Fearless Gratitude

June 22, 2022

Where does generosity begin? For Bryan and Robin Gerard, as for many of us, it begins with
gratitude. Adam Gerard ’19 (pictured at left with Dr. Richard Eckley) graduated from Houghton with a degree in theology. He moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to begin his career in ministry at Amplify Church while also working for Riverside Center for Innovation, a non-profit organization focused on economic development with minority-owned businesses. Adam plans to utilize his education and life experience to bring restoration and the Gospel to the city and people of Pittsburgh.

Adam, and his parents Bryan and Robin, are profoundly grateful for his transformational Houghton experience, particularly the mentorship of Richard Eckley, Professor Emeritus of Theology.

A student in a number of Dr. Eckley’s classes, Adam kept finding his way to the professor’s office where he encountered genuine interest, concern and friendly advice. “Rich went above and beyond to mentor Adam in his academic pursuits, his vocational pursuits and his spiritual life,” explains Bryan Gerard.

The Gerards are passionate about Biblical education and firmly believe in the mission of Houghton University. Because of these motivators and the impact of Professor Eckley on Adam’s life, they were inspired to begin a conversation with Ben Colter ’82, Donor Engagement Coordinator, about benefitting future theology students to help make Houghton even more affordable. That ongoing conversation eventually included Karl Sisson, Vice President for Advancement and External Engagement. Karl discussed the lasting power of an endowed scholarship with the Gerards. He shared how it could effectively be utilized to meet their personal goals while also paying tribute to Dr. Eckley.

Bryan and Robin made a verbal commitment to create the Professor Richard Eckley Scholarship and, in September 2021, developed the criteria for the award. The scholarship is offered to a student studying theology and planning to pursue a career in full-time ministry as either a missionary or a pastor.

Rich Eckley and Adam Gerard posing for photo in graduation apparel.

This sort of fearless generosity inspires others. As others have learned about the way in which the Gerards have honored Dr. Eckley, they’ve chosen to create endowed scholarships as well. Shortly before the passing of his wife, Mary (Sell ’56) Kingdon, retired theology professor Rev. Harold Kingdon ’57 created the Harold and Mary (Sell) Kingdon Scholarship. This fund inspired others to give in memory of Mary after her passing. When college friend Rev. Charles Williamson ’58 learned of the fund honoring the Kingdons, he and his wife Edna decided to give sooner than planned to experience the joy of helping Houghton students access a high-quality, Christ-centered education.

Dr. Eckley’s investment in Adam Gerard inspired Bryan and Robin Gerard. The Gerards’ generosity inspired Harold and Mary Kingdon, which, in turn, inspired Charles and Edna Williamson. There are future chapters of gratitude yet to be written. What chapter will you write?


Joshua Morris wearing Highlander shirt and backwards cap.

Meet the Scholar-Servant:

The first recipient of the Professor Richard Eckley Scholarship is Joshua Morris ’24 from Watertown, New York. Joshua is a theology major with a minor in family studies. He hopes to become a family pastor or children’s pastor and provide counseling to young couples, children and families. Of his time at Houghton so far, Joshua says, “I’ve had the opportunity to see what true community looks like here at Houghton. I’ve grown closer to God in my spiritual life and have met some amazing mentors. Houghton has made it possible for me to have the education I need to pursue the call God has placed on my life.”