Personal Giving Stories

Alumna Encourages Others to Support Illinois Students During Pandemic

Ellen Greaves
Ellen Greaves

Ellen Greaves (’72 B.S., ’93 J.D.) has spent much of her life ensuring others had open doors. Growing up pre-Title IX, Greaves was told she couldn’t participate once because she was a girl. That experience has been a driving force for her to help girls and women have equal opportunity.

Now, through a significant gift in her estate, Greaves will provide opportunities for bright students with financial need at her alma mater. “Students have so much on their plates already, especially those who struggle to pay for school; and now with COVID, there’s even more for them to overcome,” she says. In addition, the Ellen C. Greaves Endowment will support the University’s efforts to attract and retain outstanding faculty.

Growing up in Hinsdale, Illinois, Greaves knew early she would attend the University of Illinois. She loved Illinois sports, and a favorite high school PE teacher was an alumna. “As soon as I got there, it felt like home. It’s a world-class university with a down-to-earth attitude,” she says.

Early on in her career, Greaves served as Director of Campus Recreation at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. There she would oversee the design of a student recreation center accessible to all. Her experience at Illinois, where physical accessibility was pioneered, influenced many of the decisions she would make in that role.

In 1990 Greaves returned to Illinois for law school and served as president of the Student Bar Association. There she and classmates also started the first Elder Law Journal. “We got so much exposure to cutting-edge thinking by renowned scholars,” she says. “They were also completely open to new ideas and methodologies, even when posed by students.”

Greaves has also worked in private practice, nonprofit board management, and mediation. Semi-retired, she currently resides in North Carolina and her calling of helping others continues through her U of I legacy providing opportunities for students and faculty.


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