Beloved professor James McCullagh leaves $1.1 million legacy gift to student scholarships

Beloved professor James McCullagh leaves $1.1 million legacy gift to student scholarships

James McCullaghCEDAR FALLS, Iowa – A $1.1 million legacy gift by the late professor of social work, James (Jim) McCullagh, will provide much needed financial support for students pursuing a social work major at UNI.

McCullagh taught within UNI’s Department of Social Work for 40 years, retiring in 2021 after a lifetime of service to the social work profession and his students. Over these years, he received several awards that reflected this dedication, including the Regents Award for Teaching and the Randy A. Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award.

The $1.1 million gift from James McCullagh will provide scholarships through three different funds: The Dr. James G. McCullagh Endowed Fund for Excellence, which will award social work students for academic excellence and excellence in leadership; the Anna McCullagh Memorial Endowed Scholarship, providing three scholarships for social work students; and the Dr. James McCullagh Student Support Endowed Fund, which will help provide financial support for undergraduate social work students with internships out of the state or country.

Professor of criminology Clemens Bartollas, who started at UNI in 1981 alongside McCullagh, reflected, “We need giants in this world. People who are going to make a difference. And that was Jim McCullagh. He was very dedicated to his craft and to making a difference in the lives of his students.”

Professor and former head of the Department of Social Work, Cindy Juby, also witnessed this commitment. “His students were his priority. If he could have, he would have lived in his office. He developed a lot of relationships that continued even after graduation.”

McCullagh lived in Cedar Falls with his wife, Cheryl, and son, James John McCullagh. Cheryl was also dedicated to the social work field. Prior to her death in 2015, Cheryl was employed as a school social worker by the Area Education Agency. She was honored as the Iowa School Social Worker of the Year in 1994 and the Iowa Social Worker of the Year in 1995. She also received the Seasons of the Year Award from the Family & Children’s Council in Waterloo.

UNI holds the largest Bachelor of Social Work program in the state of Iowa and the only trauma-informed Master of Social Work program in the Midwest. In honor of their many contributions, the atrium in Sabin Hall on the UNI campus will soon be dedicated as the Dr. James and Cheryl McCullagh Atrium.