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Learning to pay it forward

Anthropology Club will carry on Bob Mucci’s book sale legacy, scholarships for students

Friday May 23, 2014


Each spring and fall at Indiana University Northwest, the unmistakable aroma of used books fills the Moraine Student Center at Indiana University Northwest, their glorious mustiness drawing in book aficionados for the past 22 years. In fact, few would dispute that the Big One-Dollar Book Sale is as much a campus institution as Bob Mucci, Ph.D., himself.

Mucci, associate professor of anthropology who retired at the end of the Spring 2014 semester, brought the first book sale to IU Northwest in 1989, well before the University had an actual anthropology degree program.

Much more than just an ordinary club fundraiser, the book sale is an example of how a small act of philanthropy can multiply and grow. The proceeds from the twice-yearly book sale fill the coffers of the Anthropology Club, which provides scholarships for anthropology students and field work experiences every year.

While it might seem that dollar books would have little impact, the Anthropology Club’s account has become quite sizable in recent years, thanks in large part to a cherished faculty member who continues to support the book sale’s philanthropic endeavor even after her death.

Kathleen Forgey, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of anthropology passed away in 2010. Her family donated her vast personal collection of anthropology books to the club. Worth far more than one dollar each, the club began offering them up to buyers on Amazon.com, the priciest of which have sold for well over $100. The dollar book sale itself routinely brings in about $3,000, Mucci said.

The sale appeared threatened at one time, with the club losing storage space to house its continuous stream of donations. Mucci personally stores about 1,500 of the Amazon-listed books at his home, a fact he shared while peering over the towers of still more books in his Lindenwood Hall office. Mucci admits that he worried about the future of the book sale as he neared retirement, but he’s been assured the sale, and the assistance it provides to students, will endure thanks to the Anthropology Club under the direction of Assistant Professor Michelle Stokely, Ph.D.

“I am not grieving it,” Mucci said. “It is part of my legacy now.”

Mucci said the sale has made about $5,000 over the past year. Combine that with the longevity of the sale, and the club had enough funds to establish an endowed scholarship. With $10,000, the club could create a permanent scholarship that is awarded year after year -- one that would sustain itself indefinitely from interest earned.

Instead, the club decided to take its $15,000 and create a quasi-endowed scholarship. That means the club will continue giving $2,500 to students each year, but it will have the flexibility of changing the amount awarded to students. The account is expected to keep growing with the continuation of the book sale and the interest that the fund will now accrue.

The Anthropology Club is one of the most active academic student groups on campus, with about a dozen active members attending meetings regularly, said Mucci. As a handful of them gathered in Mucci’s office recently, some discussed their own experiences, made possible through the sale’s proceeds.

Eric Doffin, who studied in Italy recently thanks to an Anthropology Club fellowship, said that establishing a scholarship has impact far beyond the benefit to the individuals who receive them.

“It is a reciprocating process,” Doffin explained. “The hope is that the students who benefit will go on to eventually inspire, mentor or contribute later on to that same scholarship for other students.”

Jayson Goodman, an anthropology major and scholarship recipient who graduated in 2014, said the ability to provide scholarships to students is especially important to students who attend a regional campus and work in addition to taking classes.

“Something like this is really there to support the community, in a way, because most of us may not be able to afford to pay for all the classes we want to take or need to take to finish our degree,” Goodman said. “Something like this really helps support that. Once we get it, we want to give back just as much.”

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