The Nord family’s enduring philanthropic support of Case Western Reserve University is evident in every corner of campus, from striking learning and research spaces to innovative programs that inspire faculty, students and the broader community.
Now, nearly two decades after the family first made a transformational gift to the humanities at Case Western Reserve, Jane Nord (GRS ’76), and the Eric and Jane Nord Family Fund have endowed a professorship in the discipline that also makes permanent the role of a designated champion for the humanities across the university.
Created through $2.2 million in gifts and commitments, the Eric and Jane Nord Family Professorship also establishes the principle that this scholar serves as director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. In 1996, Jane Nord and her late husband Eric (CIT ’39, HON ’98) committed $3 million to establish the center and support the renovation of Clark Hall, where it continues to be housed today.
Harvard-educated classicist Peter E. Knox, PhD, is the inaugural recipient of the Nord professorship, an appointment the campus celebrated at a chairing ceremony Feb. 18 in the Tinkham Veale University Center at Case Western Reserve. Knox, who taught at Harvard and Columbia before spending nearly 25 years at the University of Colorado in Boulder, has authored and edited six books on Ovid as well as dozens of articles regarding the works of the celebrated Roman poet.
“The Nord family’s engagement with Case Western Reserve has brought profound positive effects to the university,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “We are honored by their ongoing support, and delighted that this professorship has allowed us to recruit a scholar of Peter’s caliber.”
Jane Nord’s lifelong passion for the arts is reflected in countless ways across Northeast Ohio, including the master’s degree in art education that she earned from Case Western Reserve in 1976. Her late husband, Eric, attended the Case Institute of Technology, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1939. The couple first met soon after World War II, and in 1954 Eric and his brother Evan (CIT ’41) founded Nordson Corp. The pair grew a modest local firm into a publicly traded international company, personally accumulating more than 25 U.S. patents. At the same time, Eric and Jane raised five children. Among them is Virginia “Gini” Barbato, an alumna and current Case Western Reserve trustee.
“This professorship marks an opportunity to extend and deepen the role of the humanities at Case Western Reserve,” Barbato said. “It builds upon earlier achievements and creates momentum for greater impact and innovation.”
The Baker-Nord Center celebrates the arts and humanities through public lectures, panels, performances and special programs. The center also supports research and creative work in the humanities and arts through fellowships, grants and public forums.
In addition, the family’s $5 million gift to Case School of Engineering supported the conversion of what is now Nord Hall, allowing the engineering school to centralize academic and administrative functions and provide a common area for students, staff and faculty to gather and share ideas.
Committed to education across disciplines, the Nords also established scholarship funds for arts education, teaching innovation, faculty development and the Nord Professorship in Engineering.