As Jean Quam steps down as dean and enters phased retirement, there will be a lot to remember her by—her steady leadership, her sense of humor, and her interest in others are some examples. Another tangible example is the Jean K. Quam Fellowship in Social Work.
More than 10 years ago, Jean established the fellowship to benefit students in her home department. “It all started when I was the director of the School of Social Work,” she says. “I did it because I know the high cost of tuition. I felt if I was asking for others to contribute to scholarship funds, I should show I could do it myself. I would occasionally put money into it and when I had a birthday and people would say ‘what can I give you?’ I’d say they could contribute to this fund. So it grew.”
It grew enough until one day, the development office contacted Jean to say the fund was eligible for endowment.
The fund provides fellowships for graduate students in the School of Social Work. Recipients of the award are in good academic standing with exceptional potential in their field. The fellowship is used for the payment of tuition or as a stipend. Students can qualify for funding from the fellowship for more than a year as long as they are making demonstrable progress toward a degree.
“The criteria are pretty broad,” says Megan Morrissey, School of Social Work associate director and MSW program director. “With that in mind, we have tried to think of some of the priorities that Dr. Quam has promoted.”
As an example, Morrissey notes that Jean has placed a strong emphasis on creating an inclusive atmosphere in the college.
“We have supported that by trying to select recipients who bring diverse perspectives to our college,” Morrissey says. “We have also tried to look for future social workers whose interests have fallen in line with some of Dr. Quam’s research, particularly her interest in working with older adults.”
The first recipient of the fellowship was Eveline Ndii Kalomo in 2013. She was a PhD candidate in social work from Namibia who was finishing up her dissertation. Her award allowed her to stay in the U.S. to complete her PhD. She is now an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Wichita State University in Kansas.
CEHD plans to award the fellowship annually. And thanks to the estate of Wayne A. Munday, new gifts to the fund will be matched 1:1. Jean envisions a lasting legacy for her fellowship and will make this possible herself with ongoing contributions beyond her retirement. Consider paying tribute to Jean’s legacy and helping future social workers with a gift to the Quam Fellowship.
Story by Kevin Moe | Photos by Parker Johnson / Minnesota Daily; Dawn Villella | Spring/Summer 2020