A conversation with Dr. Edward LeRoy Long, Jr. ’48
Emeritus university professor and author Dr. Edward LeRoy Long, Jr., M.Div. ’48, wrote the following statement about why he created a charitable trust, established several gift annuities, and is making annual gifts—all to benefit Union through the Edward Long Endowment for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies.
“I attended Union Theological Seminary because the pastor of the church I attended while in high school was a graduate and because it was a lively place. After all, both Harry Emerson Fosdick and Reinhold Niebuhr were on the faculty—along with a host of scholars recognized as being at the very top of their fields.
“Union has been for me the most cherished alma mater, even though I have attended three other schools and have degrees from two of them. Union supported me with a combination of scholarships and work opportunities, even for study at Columbia University for my Ph.D. My whole career has been spent teaching: philosophy and religion to undergraduates; Christian ethics and the theological analysis of culture to graduates.
“I came from a family that lived frugally on a public schoolteacher’s income, including during the Depression. But as I got older and got past the expense of buying a house and educating a family, I managed to accrue some modest discretionary income and started what became more than three decades of fairly regular support of Union—which over those same years has been increasingly pressed financially. Union is situated in a very exciting and pivotal location—albeit a very expensive one—and unlike law (or some other professional) schools, its graduates make only modest salaries.
“My first major gift to Union was made to establish a charitable remainder unitrust. That unitrust has now paid back to me more than my original gift and has maintained its value for Union while doing so—even gone up in value just a bit. It pays me 6 percent of the recalculated worth every year—more than what can now be earned through other kinds of savings. I also saved a sizable amount in income tax making the gift.
“The next step took place when I got a letter from President Shriver bluntly telling me that I should contribute a thousand dollars each year to the annual fund. Accustomed as I was to church pledges based on Depression figures, I was shocked—but I did it (except for a few years when I faced extraordinary expenses). More recently I have been establishing annuities to benefit Union, which have an annual return that goes up as I get into my eighties and nineties. Now the interest rate I can get is about three times that of bonds—and the income is just as secure, if not more so.
“A couple of years ago, President Jones worked with me to put these resources to some special use. Thus was established the Edward Long Endowment for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies. In order to encourage this to start before I die, I have agreed to give Union each year an outright gift sufficient to match what will be the eventual return from this fund. In the spring of 2016, Union had the first special class supported by this effort.
“This is an example of what a person of only modest resources can do by putting heart and mind to it. It would be wonderful to have company. To do it, start early and live long.”
Dr. Long is the James W. Pearsall Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Theology of Culture at Drew University. He is a prolific author of books who published his first two while still a student at Union. His most recent is Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians. He has taught at many colleges, including Union, and been named a Unitas Distinguished Alumnus.