A Student of History

June 12, 2007

Huge Gift for the Right Purpose

Filed under: Historic Places,The Academy — John Maass @ 8:02 pm

 

You need not be a W&L student/alum/friend to appreciate not only the magnitude of this recent gift, but its purpose as well.  God bless the donor.

Lexington, VA • June 7, 2007 — During commencement exercises today, Washington and Lee University announced that it has received a gift of $100 million, the largest in the 258-year-old school’s history and one of the largest ever received by a liberal arts college.

“This act of generosity, vision and loyalty ensures that Washington and Lee will fulfill its historic mission to educate leaders who possess integrity and a commitment to service,” said W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio.

Of the total sum, $85 million will increase existing funds for need-based aid at the university. “We want top students who can benefit from one of the country’s best, most personal liberal arts educations,” said Ruscio. “This gift means that financial circumstances need not prevent such students from choosing W&L.”

Ruscio said that the donor requests that he remain unidentified for the present in order to keep the focus on the students graduating today, the program the gift creates and the values it reinforces.

The contribution was made to endow a new program focusing on leadership and integrity. “It provides an unprecedented set of opportunities for a university,” said Ruscio. “The theme could not be more timely for Washington and Lee and for society.”

The endowment:

  • Establishes a new scholarship program, which will become a signature feature of Washington and Lee, attracting students with exceptional academic and personal promise, regardless of their ability to afford tuition and other expenses.
  • Creates two new professorships. One professor, in the College of Arts and Sciences, will teach how individuals and ideas shape the course of history. The other, in W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, will teach leadership and entrepreneurship, vital themes in the market economies of the 21st century. Generations of students will benefit from interactions with these outstanding teacher-scholars, the courses they develop and the scholarship they produce.
  • Establishes a lecture series and a symposium that will shape not only the campus conversation but also the national conversation on leadership in the 21st century.
  • Establishes a leadership experience program that will enable rising seniors to pursue a summer project or an internship to develop their leadership potential.

“The gift sends a strong message about the value of a liberal arts education in today’s world,” said Ruscio. “To succeed, students need not only technical and analytical skills but also the capacity to reason critically and creatively, and to act ethically at all times.”

Further, said Ruscio, “at a time when the cost of college is a concern for many, we want to be sure that capable students can attend the university regardless of their financial ability.”

In the last two months, W&L has received not one but two of the largest gifts ever to a liberal arts college. In April, it received $33 million from another donor, to increase and maintain faculty salaries. Both gifts undergird the university’s new strategic plan, which W&L completed in May. Philip W. Norwood, rector of the Board of Trustees and a member of the class of 1969, says that “two of the plan’s signature components call for attracting and supporting exceptional students and outstanding faculty. Both of these remarkable gifts will help us attain those objectives.” Norwood is president and CEO of Faison Enterprises Inc., in Charlotte, N.C.

“The core strength of Washington and Lee is its people,” said Ruscio. “We are grateful that we can face our future prepared for the challenges it will bring for the University and its graduates.”

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