By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer
More than 40 years ago, Dennis Gartman walked into an English class Dr. Sally Kennedy was teaching at the University of Akron.
Her influence on him continues to this day.
''Sally made me focus on thinking,'' said Gartman, 60, a nationally known financial trader and publisher of The Gartman Letter who often can be seen on the cable television business channel CNBC.
Gartman, now of Suffolk, Va., has set up an endowed scholarship at UA for undergraduate English majors in the name of his favorite teacher, now Dr. Sally Kennedy Slocum.
''She made me a better student,'' said Gartman, who gave an initial $25,000 for the scholarship. He said he will continue to make annual donations.
Gartman is a 1968 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School and a 1972 graduate of UA, who also received a master's degree in English from North Carolina State University. He has worked as an economist and financial analyst in Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; and Virginia.
Slocum, of Akron, a professor emeritus who retired from UA in 1996 as an associate professor of English, ''was solid,'' Gartman
''She made me put my head down and say I can do whatever I wanted to do,'' he said.
Slocum, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., received her undergraduate degree from Columbia College in South Carolina and her master's and doctorate degrees in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
She taught at UA from 1966 to 1996 and was considered an expert in Chaucer.
In 1999, Slocum was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has become a regular host of chats on the website http://www.msworld.org that bills itself as ''Patients Helping Patients.''
UA, in a description of the scholarship, said ''Dr. Slocum impacted thousands of lives with her passion and ardor for the literature she taught and instilled in her students. It is that same passion which inspired Dennis to establish this scholarship in her honor.''
Slocum said she is ''humbled and honored'' at what her former student has done in her name.
''I was just doing my job,'' she said.
Gartman ''was very bright,'' she said, calling him a favorite student of hers.
''I feel like I won an Oscar,'' Slocum said of having a scholarship set up in her name.
It is true, she said, that ''you do love your students. It's a mysterious thing between instructors and the instructed. Sometimes it works, and that is when it is best.''
Gartman said his wife, Margaret, asked what he wanted for his 60th birthday. After thinking about it, he decided to endow a scholarship for Slocum.
''I want to put money into it and remember what one professor's influence was and send some kids to school,'' said Gartman, who spoke at an economics conference at UA last month.
Along with his continuing gratefulness to Slocum, he said the scholarship is his way to ''pay it forward.''
For information about giving to the Dr. Sally K. Slocum Endowed Scholarship Fund, contact Evelyn DiBello at 330-972-2575.
When application procedures are finalized for the scholarship, information will be made available to students through UA's Office of Student Financial Aid.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.