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The birthday gift of a lifetime

Posted by on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Giving, Summer 2010.

David Semmel, Jocelyn Bowie, Dorothy Semmel and Mel Semmel, EdD’63.

David Semmel and his wife, Jocelyn Bowie, wanted to find a way to honor David’s father, Mel, EdD’63, on his 80th birthday. They decided that a gift to Peabody supporting graduate research would be perfect. When they presented their idea to Mel—who is retired and living in Santa Barbara, Calif., with his wife, Dorothy—he was delighted.

There was just one problem. It wasn’t Mel’s 80th birthday, it was his 79th.

Nevertheless, the family has enthusiastically embraced the project and worked closely with Peabody’s development staff to create that perfect gift. The Melvyn I. Semmel Dissertation Research Award will support doctoral candidates in Peabody’s Department of Special Education.

“Research was the bedrock of Mel’s career,” says Jocelyn, the director of communications and marketing at Indiana University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Strength in research is what he wants to foster, and this gift honors his interests and passions.”

This is not the first time Mel’s name has been associated with an award from Peabody. He was named the college’s distinguished alumnus in 2007.

“Being named distinguished alumnus was tremendously meaningful to him,” says David, who is general partner with venture capital firm Kettle Partners. “He was proud to have been recognized by a place that’s produced so many of the great researchers in his field. It meant the world to him.”

Jocelyn and David both grew up in academic families and understand the importance of supporting graduate students.

“Ph.D. candidates in special education are the future leaders in the field,” David says. “Giving them some incentive and a little push at this critical juncture can have an enormous impact. This is a great investment for us because it’s not only my father’s passion, it’s a really good thing to do for society.”



  • stan dickson

    September 15th, 2010

    congratulations and best wishes. Loved your picture of you and the family. Brought back memories. Will be celebrating my first grandchild’s wedding in a couple of weeks and the preparation is overwhelming but brings much happiness. Where does the time go? It flies. Good wishes and congrats. Will be having dinner tonight with Jo Wise and will tell her about your birthday Stan

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