ESR Announces New Major Gift That Benefits Facilities, Events, and Scholarships

Earlham School of Religion is honored and pleased to announce 2020 as the first year of a ten-year pledge totaling $1,500,000.00 from the James R. Perkins Charitable Trust. This Trust represents James Perkins and his three children, James David Perkins, Mark A. Perkins, and Elizabeth Hendricks. The gift honors Jim’s wife Barbara Wildman Perkins and their parents, W. Wendell and Marguerite Greenwalt Wildman, and Ray L. and Frances Wells Perkins.

"ESR is incredibly thankful for this tremendous gift from Jim Perkins and his family. With this gift, Jim is leaving a wonderful legacy that honors his wife’s love of and service to Earlham School of Religion, their parents' wise and careful management of assets, and their family's long and consistent support for Quaker education. Jim and his family are ensuring that ESR will remain a vibrant and welcoming place for students, graduates, employees, and friends to gather for spiritual and theological exploration in the manner of Friends,” observes Dean Matt Hisrich.

The James R. and Barbara W. Perkins ESR Fund for Facilities will provide support to the mission and ministry of ESR by creating and maintaining inviting spaces for students and targeted investments in renewable energy and energy use reduction. The Perkins Family Lecture Series establishes an endowed fund for an ongoing Quaker programming. The Perkins Family Scholarship establishes long-term scholarship support for international Quaker students enrolling at ESR, with a significant focus on Kenyan students.

Some of the earliest facilities projects involve interior renovation of the ESR Classroom and Community Building, including the addition of a fireplace in the Gathering Area that was part of the original building plans. On the exterior, ESR will move forward with plans to install solar panels on the ESR Classroom and Community Building and the ESR Barclay Building as a commitment to renewable energy and to lowering significant utility expenses.

Jonelle Ellis, Director of Business Services and Facilities, states, "We are excited and grateful to receive this gift. This very generous donation will allow us to make energy saving improvements to both of the ESR buildings. We are also going to update the gathering area in the classroom building to make it more welcoming to our students and guests.” 

Jim Perkins is a native Kansan who lives and works in the Flint Hills of southeast Kansas. A life-long Quaker with a strong commitment to education, Jim is member of Heartland Friends Meeting in Wichita, Kansas. In 1960, Jim and his wife Barbara were married in the Stout Meetinghouse located on the campus of Earlham College. He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Westtown School, as well as a board member for other Quaker schools. Jim continues to be an enthusiastic and tireless fundraiser for schools and organizations, with a passion to assist others with their fundraising skills. 

If you, your meeting, or your organization would like to contribute toward these or other efforts to improve ESR facilities or provide financial support for students, please contact ESR’s Development Coordinator Tom Decker at 800-432-1377 or 

To discuss ESR’s financial aid options for domestic and international students, please contact Jonelle Ellis, Director of Business Services and Facilities, at 800-432-1377 or

If you would like to know how you could best support ESR programs, please contact Mandy Ford, Director of Community Engagement, at 800-432-1377 or

To explore whether you might be a good fit for any of ESR's degree and certificate programs, contact Julie Dishman, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, at 800-432-1377 or