Goshen College research opportunities receive support from $1.4 million gift

Liz and Merle Jacobs

GOSHEN, IND. — With a recent generous estate gift of $1.4 million, student and faculty research  at Goshen College just received a major boost of support.

The college is announcing the establishment of the Merle E. and Elizabeth Jacobs Endowment Fund, which is dedicated to supporting research endeavors, and will especially underwrite the college’s unique summer research program, Maple Scholars.

President Rebecca Stoltzfus said, “Collaborative research by students and faculty across the disciplines is a hallmark of academic excellence at Goshen College. This generous gift from Merle and Elizabeth Jacobs will secure and expand our Maple Scholars program into the future, affecting the lives and careers of many students. We are immensely grateful.”

This contribution from the estate of alumni Merle and Elizabeth (Beyeler) Jacobs reflects their lifelong passions and contributions.

Merle Jacobs

Merle, a 1948 graduate of GC, was also a biology professor at the college from 1953-54 and 1964-1985, and frequently had research assistance from students. With a doctorate in zoology and sponsorship from the National Institutes of Health, Merle’s research was in the area of biochemical genetics of melanin pigmentation relative to adaptation, which had implications for aging and other health-related issues. He was also an avid researcher in animal behavior. He particularly studied dragonflies, fruit flies (drosophila), fish and birds. Merle passed away in 2008.

Liz and Merle Jacobs

Elizabeth, a 1956 Goshen College graduate, shared her husband’s dedication to environmental education. Her teaching career spanned 10 different schools as she focused on instilling curiosity and a love of learning in her elementary school students. She passed away in 2023.

The major gift marks a pivotal moment in supporting a cornerstone of experiential learning at Goshen College. With this fund, students will have unparalleled opportunities to engage in diverse faculty-mentored research projects across all fields, amplifying their academic experiences.

Merle and Liz Jacobs

In particular, this investment will enhance the Maple Scholars summer research program and foster a vibrant community of scholars, taking a significant step forward in advancing GC’s mission of empowering students through hands-on research experiences with faculty.

Goshen College was a pioneer in undergraduate research with the launch of the Maple Scholars program in 1998. This eight-week summer program allows students from all academic disciplines to work closely with professors on research projects. Unlike larger universities where undergraduates often collaborate only with graduate students, Maple Scholars engage directly with faculty mentors. They present their research weekly and conclude the program with a public presentation of their findings.