Joseph E. Callen, 42BSCh, 43MS, 46PhD, and Ursil Callen, 45BS, 45GN, have been generous and creative contributors to the UI, focusing on the lack of scholarships available to graduate students and actively working to ease the financial burdens these students often face.
A native of Moulton, Joe pursued his education while simultaneously serving his country during World War II, teaching chemistry at the UI and working as a research chemist with the National Defense Research Committee from 1943-45. He and Ursil were married in 1944, while she was studying in the UI College of Nursing.
Joe enjoyed a long and successful career in the research department at Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, retiring in 1977 as the department's associate director. Together the Callens have provided generous, high-level support to a broad spectrum of UI colleges and programs, including the College of Liberal Arts, the Department for Computer Science, the University's creative writing programs, and the School of Library and Information Science, as well as the Department of Chemistry and the College of Nursing.
In 1942, Joe received the Theodore F. Sanxay Prize, which is awarded annually by the Graduate College to the UI undergraduate most likely to benefit from graduate study. The award was instrumental to Joe's success in graduate school, and in appreciation of this scholarship the Callens created a graduate scholarship fund in 1990 that provides assistance to entering graduate students in fields recognized by the federal government to be in the nation's interest. An important resource for the graduate College, the Joseph E. and Ursil I. Callen Scholarship Fund helps to improve the quality of graduate education at the UI. Income from this fund provides scholarships to students who demonstrate strong leadership skills and plan to matriculate into advanced study in chemistry, computer science, creative writing, library science, and nursing.
The Callens have also proved to be friends who can be counted on in a pinch. In addition to their financial support, they have demonstrated a willingness to work overtime to promote the university. When the UI faced the prospect of decreased state appropriations, the Callens wrote the governor to protest the proposed cuts and acted as strong committed advocates on the university's behalf. In 1996, when Gilmore Hall was renovated to provide additional space for the Graduate College, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and various other departments, a budget shortfall arose. The Callens generously stepped forward and provided funding that allowed the UI to finish the project.
The Callens are annual members of the UI Alumni Association and members of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.