White FHU Logo
White FHU Logo

Henderson, Tennessee — March 5, 2024 — Professor Emeritus of Physical Sciences Dr. Joe DeLay has initiated an endowed fund to support the College of Arts and Sciences at Freed-Hardeman University. Titled the Silver Leaf Fund by DeLay, it is designed to provide needed equipment that is unsupported in the annual budget.

DeLay said he came up with the name last fall while reminiscing about an abandoned house he remembered seeing in Middle Tennessee. The house is surrounded by a thicket of silver leaf poplars, sometimes called white poplar. “When a downdraft occurs, these trees turn the silver side of their leaves out, as if announcing something good is coming, perhaps the gift of rain,” he said. “My memory of these trees led me to the name for the fund.”

 The new equipment, purchased by the Silver Leaf Fund, is already being utilized by FHU chemistry students.

DeLay began the fund with a $10,000 gift of seed money. “Dr. DeLay changed the entire trajectory of my life,” Dr. Jim Barr, director of institutional research and analytics and professor of chemistry, said. “I’d love to see this new fund take off and be a blessing for FHU students for the rest of our lives.”

Already, chemistry students are benefitting from the purchase of an Agilent 5977C Mass Spectrometer with 8860 Gas Chromatograph and Autosampler, which utilizes their new HydroInert source and an Agilent 1260 Infinity II Liquid Chromatography Spectrometer with Diode Array Detector. “We had been in need of both of those systems for a good bit of time,” Dr. Jim Barr, director of institutional research and analytics and assistant professor of chemistry, said.

In addition, research projects from other departments need additional funding. “I myself now have a silver side, mostly on top of my head,” DeLay said. “I am hoping others will join me in announcing something good is coming.” Those who would like to “show their silver side” by contributing to the Silver Leaf Fund should contact the FHU Office of Advancement (fhu.edu/give). 

(L to R) Kay DeLay, Dr. Joe DeLay and Dr. Jim Barr, director of institutional research and analytics and professor of chemistry

“Chemistry labs with Dr. DeLay were always an adventure. His ability to design experiments and improvise when things didn’t go exactly as planned endeared him to both his colleagues and his students,” Dr. LeAnn Davis, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “The Silver Leaf Fund is a wonderful way to ensure that FHU will continue to provide all necessary equipment for students in both the arts and the sciences to experience those exciting moments of discovery and creativity that Dr. DeLay inspires.”

DeLay came to FHU in 1982 and retired in 2017 at age 78. He and his wife, Kay, still live in Henderson and are beloved by the FHU family and community for their generosity, love of FHU athletics and service to others. Alumni share favorite stories of racing him from chapel to the lunch line and iconic jokes. He also has shared his original poetry and photography with those around him for decades.

Professor Emeritus of Physical Sciences Dr. Joe DeLay displays a piece of new equipment that was made possible by the Silver Leaf Fund.

The FHU College of Arts and Sciences includes the departments of arts and humanities; biological, physical and human sciences; creative and communication arts; history, philosophy and political studies; mathematics, engineering and computer science; and nursing.

The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.