“We came for the scenery,” Peter jokes, but in truth, it was a commitment to higher education and a desire to make a difference that brought them to the University of Illinois. Peter started his long career in Academic Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and later became Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, impacting the whole U of I System.
Joan also made her mark. At first an active volunteer and stay-at-home mom, she steered the University Library “Friends” program. Her role expanded to encompass public relations, and she later became the founding Director of Development for University Libraries, fundraising to expand the collections to nine million volumes before her 1998 retirement.
From the first, though, they supported the arts at Illinois. “It’s good to give to something you believe in and are passionate about,” Joan remarks. “We gave our first private gift to Krannert Art Museum in 1970, and over the years, we’ve been involved with both Krannerts—the museum and performing arts center—they’ve added to our lives. And we hope, through our support for these great arts institutions, we can give back.”
Joan and Peter point to travel as the source of their interest in the arts. “We’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world” -- over 100 countries -- notes Peter. “Our experiences of other cultures and their art have shaped us.” He added that Krannert Art Museum offers a similar opportunity for everyone to see art from around the world.
Joan adds that KAM education programs bring art to area children and families who may be entirely new to a museum. “We’ve seen KAM–WAM kids thinking about art, learning, creating, and exhibiting art of their own. Then, they bring their parents into the museum classroom and say, look – this is what I’ve been learning in the museum!” Experiences like this inspired them to make a lead gift to the recent KAM Initiative, and the Peter and Joan Hood Classroom at the museum was dedicated in 2016.
Reflecting on their years here, Joan stated “For us, Krannert Art Museum is the perfect intersection of education and art, and it’s heartening to see the art world become more open and spark the interest of young people. We hope our gifts help carry that work forward far into the future.”
Author: Julia Nucci Kelly, 2019