Nothing brings more pride to a Wabash alumnus than seeing his own son follow in his footsteps and become a Wabash man himself.
Paul “Howie” Hawksworth ’56 got to experience that joy more than once in his life.
“My dad was incredibly proud that all three of his sons found their own path to Wabash,” Jim Hawksworth ’95 said of himself and his two brothers, David ’88 and Mike ’91.
“I grew up watching my dad never forget what Wabash had done for him personally,” said Jim, a psychology major. “He made it his lifelong goal to always say thank you and pay it back.”
Jim and his wife, Rem, recently took a giant step for Wabash as a way to express gratitude by establishing the Paul D. “Howie” Hawksworth Jr. ’56 Memorial Scholarship, a fund that Jim says will help students “achieve what they might think is impossible.”
Jim said Wabash changed his father’s life.
Howie grew up in the “Back of the Yards” neighborhood on Chicago’s Southside where he lived in an apartment above a bakery with his parents and sister. His original goal was to become a foreman at the local canning factory, like his father, but that changed one day when he was noticed on the Tilden Technical High School football field by some scouts from Wabash.
The scouts were so impressed by Howie and the rest of the offensive line that they offered each student an athletic scholarship to attend Wabash College, which was allowable in 1952.
“My dad never dreamed of going to college. His family couldn’t afford it. That scholarship was the only thing that made it possible,” Jim said of his father, who was an economics major, a football player, Beta Theta Pi brother, Sphinx Club president, and member of the Glee Club while at Wabash.
After graduation, Howie went on to pursue a long and successful career in the insurance and reinsurance businesses, ultimately becoming the CEO of the Mercantile & General Reinsurance Company of America.
“He went from aspiring to work on a production line in a factory to being the CEO of an international reinsurance company, and that’s all because of an opportunity,” Jim said. “Wabash College gave him that break in life.”
Up until his passing in 2017, Howie made it his life mission to not only pay it back, but to pay it forward, Jim said. He gave his time, talent, and treasure however and wherever he could to say “thank you” to his alma mater.
He hosted many Wabash events, served on the National Association of Wabash Men (NAWM), served a term as a trustee of the College, was a longtime class agent for the Class of 1956, and was the recipient of the Alumni Award of Merit, the highest honor a Wabash man can achieve, in 1996.
“I had a really good role model,” Jim said. “Because of my dad, I understand the importance of philanthropy. He taught me that it’s incredibly selfish if you get and you don’t give back.”
In 2010, Jim, along with his brothers, funded the scoreboard in Little Giant Stadium, naming it in honor of their father.
Now, more than 10 years later, Jim, a Managing Director and Chicago branch manager at Guy Carpenter, a business that provides reinsurance brokerage services, has decided to do even more in Howie’s memory.
The Paul D. “Howie” Hawksworth Jr. ’56 Memorial Scholarship was established to provide support for Wabash students with demonstrated financial need, who are enrolled full-time at the College, and who intend to pursue or are actively pursuing a major in economics, financial economics, or philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), or are pursuing the accounting pipeline program.
Future recipients of this scholarship should be excelling academically and taking full-advantage of the many curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular opportunities available at the College.
“Now that I’m experiencing a different financial time in my life and my kids are older, I wanted to do something more meaningful as a donor to the college,” explained Jim, who was appointed to the NAWM in 2017 and will serve the board as president from 2023-2025.
“I asked myself, what can I do to honor my dad again? And to me, this scholarship just makes sense,” he said. “It aligns with his path, which started with somebody taking a chance on him. I am committed to doing that for others.”
Rem, a Crawfordsville native and Southmont High School and Franklin College graduate, was supportive of Jim’s idea to create the scholarship and said she would have benefited from something like this growing up.
“We’ve very much tackled life as a dynamic duo, so when Jim came to me and said, ‘I really want to do this,’ I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ Let’s make an impact on these young men’s lives who maybe wouldn’t be able to go to a college like Wabash without that extra financial help,” Rem said.
“In order for me to go to college, I had to take out my own loans,” explained Rem, a stay-at-home mom and high school girls track coach. “I was a pretty poor kid growing up, not realizing that I didn't have much because my parents made me feel like I always had everything I needed. To know that we are at a place in our lives where we can lend help to young men who felt like I did years ago, I couldn’t say no.”
“Wabash has given us so much collectively, as a couple and as a family,” Rem said. “I’m always going to be all in for the school.”
Like Howie did with him, Jim said he hopes to instill the importance of philanthropy not only in his own three children, Carly, Abby, and Jimmy, but also in the entire Wabash community.
“I think the vast majority of alumni from Wabash, myself included at one point in life, might think and wonder, the College has a nice endowment. Why do they need my $100, $500?” Jim explained. “Being part of the NAWM and being able to see Wabash from the inside out, I’ve really learned a lot about the fiscal challenges of a small, liberal arts school.
“It takes a lot to run a great place like this,” he said. “The more donors there are to help take some of that financial burden off the College with scholarships, the more it helps Wabash bring in exceptional faculty and staff, opportunities for students, and affect overall outcomes. It makes me feel good to know I will be a part of the reason why Wabash continues to change the lives of young men, like it did for my dad.”