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Morrison Family Foundation’s $1M gift to DePaul University honors legacy of Harrison I. Steans

​​​​​​​​CHICAGO — The Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation and Morrison family provided a $1 million gift to DePaul University to establish a graduate fellowship program to honor the legacy of Harrison I. Steans. The Harrison I. Steans Graduate Fellowship Program will be housed within the Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning and Community Service Studies. 

Harrison I. Steans
Harrison I. Steans, DePaul Life Trustee.
Harrison I. Steans (1935–2019) was a businessman, philanthropist and DePaul Life Trustee. Together with his sister Adeline S. Morrison, they formally established the Steans Center in 2001 in honor of their father, Irwin W. Steans, through a significant endowment by the Steans Family Foundation. The Steans Center develops mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations to engage DePaul students in educational opportunities grounded in Vincentian values of respect for human dignity and the quest for social justice.

Helen H. Morrison, a director of the Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation and niece of Harrison Steans, noted, “Our family is impressed by DePaul’s commitment to developing all of its students, particularly its first-generation students, and to its emphasis on DePaul students’ important roles as contributing members of the larger, diverse community. Given events of the past months that have further sensitized us to issues of equity and community, we feel more strongly than ever that establishing this endowment is a wonderful way to honor my uncle.”

Harrison Steans devoted himself to a wide variety of philanthropic causes and is fondly remembered for the enduring impact he made at DePaul and other institutions in the Chicagoland area, especially around youth empowerment. His commitment to Chicago’s North Lawndale community, a special focus of the Steans Family Foundation, and DePaul’s community-based work through the Steans Center, also strongly align with the goals of the Morrison Family Foundation. 

Howard Rosing, executive director of the Steans Center, said of the Morrison’s generosity in establishing the new fellowship program, “I believe the gift is truly a mission-oriented infusion into graduate education that not only highlights the diversity and high quality of DePaul’s academic programs, but also provides a sustained way to share the knowledge and skills of our talented students with those who are building equitable and sustainable communities across Chicago.”

The fellowship program draws inspiration from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which represent a call to action by linking poverty elimination to strategies that improve health, education and economic growth, while also combating climate change and damage to ecosystems. Fellows will be chosen through a competitive selection process and expected to perform 100 hours of service per term, with potential support for three consecutive terms. 

Fellow-led projects will be designed collaboratively with community partners and could include creating social entrepreneurship projects, developing a home-based literacy program for refugees and advancing health promotion projects for Chicago residents who live in proximity to brownfields and other toxic sites.

Harrison’s daughter and DePaul Trustee Jennifer W. Steans said of the fellowship established in her father’s memory, “DePaul held a special place in Harrison’s heart due to its commitment to first-generation and under-resourced students, as well its focus on service learning. His advice to future Steans Fellows would likely include the Margaret Mead quote, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”


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