sealPurdue News

November 1999

Prof follows parents' advice, gives $1 million to Purdue

Source: Doug Sprenkle, (765) 494-2952;

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- In 1981 Doug Sprenkle opened a retirement account with a $166 check and only $5,000 to his name. The minister-turned-Purdue University professor was age 40 at the time. He didn't expect much from this modest start, but he was finally heeding the advice of his parents: Spend less than you make.

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Eighteen years later, thanks to monthly contributions by Purdue coupled with aggressive investing and a booming market, his efforts have amassed more than $1 million, and this expert on families is following more sage advice from his folks: The only real advantage to having more money than you need is the joy you get in giving it away.

"For those of you who have kids who do not listen to you, take heart," Sprenkle says. "My parent's wisdom was not lost on me, it just took several decades to take hold."

Sprenkle, a professor of child development and family studies, has pledged his Purdue retirement funds to the Purdue School of Consumer and Family Sciences after his death. The bequest, which has a current value of more than $1 million, will benefit the marriage and family therapy program.

The first $100,000 of the gift will establish an endowment that Sprenkle would like to be used to bring renowned speakers to campus and to pay for student travel to conferences. Sprenkle says he hopes his retirement funds eventually will grow to an amount that will also endow a distinguished professorship in the department.

A family counselor for 32 years, Sprenkle's motivation for giving is also that of seeing that the fruits of his life's work continue to help strengthen families long after he's left the profession. "I'm very much a believer in the role of families in human happiness and well-being," he says.

Sprenkle joined the Purdue faculty in 1975. He has received numerous honors during his career, including the Osborne Award from the National Council on Family Relations for his outstanding teaching in family studies, as well as the Distinguished Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of five books and more than 100 scholarly articles.

When Sprenkle eventually retires, he plans to withdraw a percentage of the funds each year to meet living expenses, rather than collect a guaranteed income for life. He says that will preserve a good amount of the money for his bequest. Because Sprenkle has other resources that meet the inheritance exemption for his family, if he were to leave his Purdue retirement funds to his children, the government would get 75 percent of the amount in income and inheritance taxes. By willing his retirement funds to Purdue, the university will get 100 percent of the funds available.

Sprenkle's gift is in support of the School of Consumer and Family Sciences' planned giving campaign "Inspiring Families, Building Communities." The goal of the campaign is to raise $10 million in deferred and outright gifts by 2001. The funds will support scholarships, faculty, future needs and the Purdue Center for Families. Since 1926, the school has directed its resources to programs that support and strengthen individuals, families and communities.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Professor Douglas Sprenkle will bequeath his Purdue retirement funds -- expected to amount to more than $1 million -- to the School of Consumer and Family Sciences to help strengthen families. He says he's a great believer in the role of families in human happiness and well-being. (Purdue News Service Photo by Vince Walter)

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