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Passionate About Fighting Hunger

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Jane Nuckolls

Meet Jane. Jane Nuckolls was described by many that knew her as one of the most compassionate people they've ever met.

"She never said no," says Robin Roach, Associate Professor and Director of the Environmental Nutrition program at the University of Memphis. For 14 years, Jane served as System Director of Nutrition Therapy at Methodist University Hospital.

"She was always available for our students in the dietetics program. I would call her and say I have 15 students, is there any way they can do their internships with your staff?" Robin says. "She would always say, ‘Sure! Let's set that up.'"

Jane's passion for nutrition and education coupled with her intense desire to end hunger issues in our city led to a remarkable legacy rooted deeply in philanthropy and public service. Robin and Jane worked side by side as dietary professionals. They would often casually speak to each other at networking events and soon began serving on several committees together. Naturally, the two developed a professional friendship. After Jane's passing in September 2015, she left an unexpected gift to the University of Memphis.

Jane was born in Jackson, Tennessee but spent most of her life in Shelby County. After receiving her bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and her master's degree from the University of Mississippi, she began her career in nutrition. As the years went by, Jane developed a keen interest in Environmental Nutrition.

"She had a real heart for the poor and had a real heart for the hungry and didn't understand why that existed, especially in Shelby County," Robin says.

Jane worked with several initiatives that focused on addressing food insecurities across our region. As a member of the Board of Directors for the Mid-South Food Bank, she chaired the Nutrition Education and Advocacy committee, which focused on educating community members to further the organization's mission.

During this time, Robin was beginning to form a new degree program at the University of Memphis that would educate students who were interested in similar causes as Jane. Together, Jane and Robin began to brainstorm ideas that would set the foundation for the Master's program with a concentration in Environmental Nutrition. Jane's intimate knowledge and passion about environmental nutrition, an area that was largely unexplored until recently, helped Robin create a program that would successfully educate dietary professionals in the emerging needs surrounding nutrition and our environment.

Environmental Nutrition examines the relationships between food, nutrition and the environment while spotlighting issues related to food sustainability, traditional food practices and food justice. The Master's degree in Environmental Nutrition is a fully online program that is one of the first of its kind in the nation.

In early 2015, Jane received a sudden terminal cancer diagnosis. While she focused on bravely fighting cancer, Jane did not stop envisioning a community without hunger. In her final days of life, she created a living trust to distribute the money she would leave behind. She shared her wishes with her sister Judy Nuckolls to ultimately fulfill them.

"I believe that if we provide resources that will educate and allow us to understand the problem better, we will be able to have a significant impact in the fight against hunger," Jane noted in her living trust.

Through the Jane Nuckolls Grant to Fight Hunger, Jane directed four grants to organizations she believed could impact hunger in Memphis. Her intimate relationship during the development of the program led to Jane establishing the Jane Nuckolls Endowed Scholarship in Environmental Nutrition at the University of Memphis.

Richard Bloomer, Professor and Director of Health Studies at the University of Memphis, describes the incredible opportunity this scholarship presents to the program and its students. "To have a scholarship like this in a new program is a wonderful opportunity to help us attract students from around the world," he says. "These students go on to implement what they've learned to benefit their entire communities."

This fall will be the first time the scholarship will be awarded. Recipient Kristyn Polucha, a student from Florida, says she is so thankful to be awarded this scholarship, which will help further her interest and education in Nutrition.

"I applied for the Masters of Science in Environmental Nutrition program because I am very passionate about health, wellness, and an equal opportunity for all communities to experience the benefits of eating healthy," Kristyn says. "There is a huge gap between eating healthy and affordability, and I am on a mission to close that gap so that everyone can eat and enjoy good, healthy food."

To learn how you, too, can make a lasting impact on students’ lives, please contact Dan H. Murrell, CFRE at 901-678-2732 or

eBrochure Request Form

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the University of Memphis a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to the University of Memphis, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 635 Normal St. Memphis, TN 38152, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the University of Memphis or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the University of Memphis as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the University of Memphis as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the University of Memphis where you agree to make a gift to the University of Memphis and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

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