Personal Giving Stories

Grateful Alums Create Fellowship and Scholarship for Architecture Students

Cynthia Faw and husband Edward Sweetnam
Cynthia Faw and husband
Edward Sweetnam

Cynthia Faw, ’75 B.S., ’77 M.A., knew in fifth grade she wanted to be an architect. Without the help of another’s generosity, she would not have been able to start her journey at the University of Illinois.

Marrying an architect was not part of Cynthia’s plan. But while working in St. Louis, she met alum and accomplished architect Edward Sweetnam, B.S. ’51. The two built a life together around common interests, values, and adventure.

Their central Illinois roots and U of I experiences inspired them to remember the School of Architecture in their living trust. The Cynthia Faw and Edward Sweetnam Architecture Fellowship and Scholarship will provide opportunities to retain and recruit exceptional students while also increasing diversity. “You think of the young people coming up, and you want to give them a hand,” says Cynthia.

After U.S. Army service, Ed, who passed in 2017, attended Illinois on the GI bill. For the next 53 years he managed the design and construction of hundreds of buildings including General Motors Technical Center, Rend Lake College, and Missouri-Synod Lutheran Headquarters. He enjoyed mentoring young professionals along the way and returned to Illinois to teach undergraduate design.

Cynthia also had a gift for teaching and was selected as a design teaching assistant while earning her master’s degree. Her work included directing large, complex projects for corporate and developer clients. She excelled in conceptualizing office and mixed-use projects including the Wells Fargo East Coast Headquarters, Microsoft Research, Boeing WHQ, and Phoenix’s CityScape.

Beyond the careers they loved, Cynthia and Ed enjoyed traveling to some 50 countries—spending time with friends and family and sailing, which Cynthia continues today.

“Because both of us received our degrees and financial help to get a good start, we were able to have a great life together,” she says.


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