Professor emeritus and photography department pioneer establishes endowment

Contact: Courtney Clancy
Photo of Jack Carney.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University professor emeritus Jack Carney, who has established an endowment fund for photography students, will lead a lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, on his photographic work, “Night Light: The Aesthetics of Time by Events in Space,” currently on view at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts. Carney, who almost 50 years ago created and taught WMU’s first photography course, will discuss his work, his inspirations and his processes in 2008 Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

He retired over 16 years ago, yet he continues to impact photography students at WMU in significant ways.

With a gift of $150,000, Carney has established an endowment fund to support the Gwen Frostic School of Art’s photography program. This gift comes after over a decade of annual $7,500 contributions, which have provided more than 30 students with scholarships over the years. The endowment will allow these annual Carney Award scholarships to continue benefitting photography students in perpetuity.

Each year, Carney meets with faculty-chosen scholarship recipients to personally congratulate them on their achievements. He sees these awards as a way to give current students the same sort of acknowledgement that he enjoyed as an aspiring artist.

 “I remember as a student, a faculty wanted to retain one of my pieces for a showcase. I couldn’t believe it,” Carney recalls. “I think it’s that thrill of being recognized. It was important to me, and with these awards, I can encourage students for their talent and hard work too.”

 Adriane Little, associate professor of photography and intermedia, attests to the awards’ significance.

 “Jack’s continued generosity impacts the photography program in a number of ways,” she says. “Students are able to purchase a special lens or a camera or other equipment that assists in the creation of photographic work for their coursework and senior projects. Some students travel to participate in specific workshops.”

 Little noted that Carney’s impact extends beyond the financial gift, explaining that meeting with Carney is an immense honor in itself.

 “The students get to share the work that they were able to create with the support they received. Jack is always interested in the students’ progress and the students are always excited to spend that time with him,” she says.

Carney and his wife, Marijo, currently live southwest of Schoolcraft on 40-acres of wooded property, land that has been the subject of much of his photography. Another major muse in Carney’s image-making career has been the American West and Utah in particular.