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Sandra K. Biggs and Harriet M. Crews Endowment in Support of the Big Read

Sandra Crews (left) and Harriet Biggs (right) smile at the camera. Sandra's arm is around Harriet's waist; Harriet's arm is around Sandra's shoulder.

Pictured: Sandra Biggs (Left) and Harriet Crews (Right)

About Our Donors

Harriet Crews was a lover of literature, a civil rights activist, and a defender of the underdog.

She was born In Wauchula, Florida, on September 6, 1945. Her childhood was spent reading, playing in the family orange groves, and spending time with the family cook in their kitchen. This connection created Harriet’s lifelong love of southern food. She loved okra, boiled peanuts, potato salad (and would argue about the best recipe!), cornbread, ham, fried chicken, homemade red velvet cake, and greens.

Harriet earned her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina. Because of her participation in the Civil Rights movement during her college years, her parents removed all of their financial support. Harriet was unfazed and figured out ways to support herself.

Harriet's first position at Purdue was as a secretary in the Writing Lab. After a couple of years, she decided that she would begin a graduate degree. She was awarded her MA in English literature from Purdue in May of 1988.

Because of her interest in literacy and helping first-generation and low-income students, Harriet spent most of her career as the Department Head in English at El Centro Community College in Dallas, Texas. She was a beloved teacher, who formed deep personal connections with her students.

Harriet met her partner, Sandra K. Biggs, when they were both in elementary school, but it was several decades later before they rediscovered each other. Sandy was the love of Harriet’s life, and she never fully recovered from the loss when Sandy died from cancer on February 7, 2021.

Together Harriet and Sandy were a philanthropic force to be reckoned with. Their love of reading paved the way for their generous gift to endow the Harriet Crews and Sandra K. Biggs Big Read program. Besides endowing the Big Read, Harriet also endowed six undergraduate scholarships for students in need. In all, Harriet donated more than $2.5 million to the Department of English.

Harriet died at home on July 19, 2022, leaving a legacy of generosity and grace.