For nearly 60 years, Edward H. Ellis Jr. ’64 and Suzanne Morrow Ellis ’64 have been among the staunchest supporters of Southwestern University. Maybe it is because they met and married as Southwestern students. Maybe it is because they believe in the power of a world-class liberal arts education. Or maybe, as President Emeritus Jake Schrum 68 puts it, it is simply because they are “unfailingly loyal to what they cherish.”

The Ellises have resolutely demonstrated their unwavering loyalty to Southwestern over the years. Through generous donations of their time, energy, and resources, Ed and Suzanne have helped advance the University’s mission and left a lasting legacy.

“They have modeled for all Southwestern alumni what philanthropy means,” Schrum says.

After graduating from Southwestern, Ed attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin while Suzanne taught second grade at Georgetown Elementary School. The couple then moved to Houston, where Ed began a 32-year career in public accounting and Suzanne worked as a third-grade teacher before focusing on raising their growing family. Ed later served as a chief financial officer in the insurance industry, and the couple also ran a chain of dry cleaning stores for 30 years. They have now settled in Round Top, where they volunteer in their community.

The Ellises also volunteer for Southwestern in a variety of ways. They both are members of the Board of Visitors and the Alumni Assembly. They have served on their reunion planning committee every five years, are past members of the Alumni Giving Board, and have been class agents and class committee officers since 1993. Suzanne is a past member of the Alumni Board and the SU Networking Committee, and Ed has served on the Southwestern University Alumni Association’s Alumni Council, the Thinking Ahead Fundraising Campaign Cabinet, and the Development Committee.

The Ellises have made financial gifts to Southwestern for 47 consecutive years. As members of the 1840 Society, they have included Southwestern in their estate plans. They also have provided multiple challenge gifts and matching gifts to encourage their fellow alumni to give to the University. These efforts have been remarkably successful: the Class of 1964 won the Class Champions Challenge in 2022, with 52.58% of the class making a gift.

“Over the years, I do not recall a single instance when Ed and Suzanne declined an invitation to serve their alma mater,” says Associate Vice President for Development Kent Huntsman. “When asked to provide a matching gift to encourage young alumni to make an annual gift, Ed and Suzanne were quick to agree, knowing that Southwestern depends on all alumni to support its initiatives. When asked to make major gifts to support faculty research, scholarships, and building projects, they have always thoughtfully responded with a generous commitment to help Southwestern move toward its envisioned future.”

Through their gifts, the Ellises have supported a long list of Southwestern initiatives. These include, but are not limited to, the Financial Analyst Program, the Lab for Innovative Ventures and Entrepreneurship, the Suzanne Morrow Ellis and Edward Ellis Jr. Scholarship Fund, the Class of 1964 Endowed Scholarship Fund, and the Jaysn Jameson Endowed Scholarship Fund. They also established the Suzanne and Ed Ellis Term Chair, which funded Professor of Biology Maria Todd’s cancer research for a term of three years.

“Through their service and philanthropy, Ed and Suzanne have impacted just about every facet of the Southwestern Experience,” Huntsman says. “Their influence will be felt on this campus in perpetuity.”

For their generous support and enduring commitment to Southwestern, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to honor Edward and Suzanne Ellis with the Distinguished Southwestern Service Award.