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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

A Hope to Do Good

The night before Clarence Alan Jackson planned to attend the University of Dayton’s annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast in 1989, he decided to review King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. One specific line caught his attention.

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” 

“I thought that would be a great idea for a scholarship someday,” Jackson remembered thinking about the quote that served as the inspiration for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., years later. "I also appreciated the good I saw in the Marianists. I had a great experience at UD.”

More than three decades after attending that breakfast as a graduate student, Jackson is bringing his scholarship to fruition. He’s committing $50,000 to UD to establish the Stones of Hope Fellowship, honoring King’s dream of people becoming a stone of hope to do good for others. The fellowship will be administered through the College of Arts and Sciences and provide support for students to participate in summer faculty-mentored opportunities through the Dean’s Summer Fellowship Program.

“The Stones of Hope Fellowship helps us to more fully realize UD's mission as a Catholic and Marianist university because these students will focus their vocation, their passion, and their skills to create a more just and peaceful society,” said Danielle Poe, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Through faculty-mentored research and scholarship, our students will hone their personal excellence and skills in order to be of service to the common good.”

After earning his master’s degree in English from UD in 1990, Jackson went on to complete a doctorate in English from the University of Tennessee — Knoxville before settling into a career as a college professor and administrator at institutions across the country.

In addition to his time at UD, Jackson also cited his parents, Bill and Lois Jackson, for inspiring him to do good for others. His parents started a food bank in their hometown of Fort Branch, Indiana, and volunteered often at the community hospital, creating a legacy of service Jackson and his siblings continue today. 

Since his retirement, Jackson has used his savings and funds left by his late parents to give back to multiple institutions. He and his siblings established a scholarship in their parents’ names at their former high school, and Jackson has funded scholarships at the University of Southern Indiana, where he received his undergraduate degree.

Jackson is a member of the 1850, Front Porch and Leo Meyer societies for sustained giving to UD through the years. In 2021, he established the Alan Jackson and Family Endowed Scholarship at UD. He also supports the University of Dayton Fund, and the departments of English and theater. 

Jackson hopes his initial commitment to the Stones of Hope Fellowship will inspire more contributions to assist a greater number of students. He said there’s no political or other underlying motivation behind his effort — just a sincere belief in King’s stones of hope to build a better society.

“While I don’t have millions of dollars to give, I’m doing this in hope of giving back to others, with the hope they can help even more people to do good,” Jackson said.

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