$200,000 Gift to Center for the Family at UMass Amherst Will Establish Lecture Series

AMHERST, Mass. - Beginning next fall, a new lecture series at the Center for the Family at the University of Massachusetts will bring nationally prominent speakers to the campus to address issues relevant to families and children.

Dorothy and Joseph Gavin Jr., of Amherst, have donated $200,000 to the center to establish the lecture series in memory of their daughter, Tay Gavin Erickson. The University has added $100,000 in matching funds to launch the lecture series.

"This very generous gift from the Gavins will enable us to bring prominent scholars to campus to help us address the issues that mattered most to Tay Gavin Erickson," says Robert Helgesen, dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources. "We are profoundly grateful for this opportunity and for the philanthropy of the Gavins."

Dorothy Dunklee Gavin is a 1943 alumna of the University. She and her husband are longtime supporters of UMass, and contributed nearly $277,000 in 1996 to help create the Center for the Family.

Housed within the department of consumer studies, the center uses a multidisciplinary approach to link teaching, research, and outreach in support of families. Since its establishment, the center has sponsored a number of seminars on various topics related to families and a major symposium on families and violence. The center is currently also a participant in several collaborative projects including a major federally funded effort with the Massachusetts Career Development Institute in Springfield and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist homeless women with children achieve self sufficiency.

Sheila Mammen, head of the department of consumer studies, says the new lecture series, to be known as the Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series, will address issues and problems faced by today''s families such as child abuse, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, education, credit and debt, and welfare and poverty.

"I''m deeply moved that the Gavins would choose to honor their daughter in this way," says Mammen. "Like them, she also was concerned about issues affecting families, particularly education. Their support of the Center for the Family affirms their belief that the University can make a difference in improving the lives of children and families."

Tay Gavin Erickson died last fall at the age of 51. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she was an artist, writer, and student of languages and world affairs. She resided in Williamstown, and besides her parents, is survived by her husband and three children.