Memorializing a Mother’s Inspiration

Richard Griffin sitting on stairs
Richard Griffin, a UNL graduate and Burnett Society member, made a planned gift to establish a scholarship in his late mother’s name: the Avanell Fowler Griffin Memorial Scholarship at the College of Architecture.

Architecture Grad Drafts Plans to Aid Students

By Ed Rider

Richard Griffin knows what it’s like to come from an underprivileged family. Growing up in Central Missouri as the middle child of a single mother, Richard, a Burnett Society member, didn’t have the resources to pay out-of-state tuition to pursue his degree in architecture.

Thanks to a reciprocal tuition program between the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Richard earned his degree from the UNL College of Architecture in 1980 and went on to a successful career with firms across the United States.

A longtime resident of Arizona, Richard credited his experiences growing up in Missouri and attending UNL for motivating him to make a planned gift to establish a scholarship in his late mother’s name — the Avanell Fowler Griffin Memorial Scholarship — at the College of Architecture.

“I lucked into the reciprocal program that got me to UNL in the first place,” Richard said. “There are so many students who come from disadvantaged situations who could become successful architects if only given the chance. So, I decided, if I was able, I would provide funding to the College of Architecture to be used specifically for scholarships for disadvantaged students who otherwise may not be able to pursue their dreams. I remember that as a student — every little bit helps.”

In November, Richard visited the College of Architecture and spoke with a group of third-year students. He said the conversations he had with those students, as well as the energy he felt around the college, were inspiring.

“It is clear that the vision for the college that was set in motion when I was a student by Dean (W. Cecil) Steward continues today,” he said.

Among the experiences that motivated Richard to create the gift, which was established as a bequest, were the many people he witnessed giving back to the College of Architecture, either serving as guest lecturers or by engaging students like him who were looking to enter the field of architecture. Richard also credited the history of the college and how graduates from UNL have helped shape the world.

But it was memories of his mother’s resolve while raising her three children alone through the crucial years of middle and high school that inspired Richard to create a scholarship in her memory.

“I decided to name the scholarship after her as a way of ensuring that everyone remember that she did everything she could for me, and all she asked in return was for me not to give her anything to worry about,” Richard said. “She continues to inspire what I do. I feel that honoring her in this way is the least I can do.”

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