Three Private Colleges Receive Record-Breaking $50 Million Gifts for Student Scholarships

In a remarkable display of philanthropy, three small private colleges have recently secured their largest-ever private donations, each exceeding a staggering $50 million. These generous gifts are poised to usher in a new era of educational opportunity and support for deserving students. This monumental outpouring of support underscores the enduring significance of quality education in shaping the future.

Private Colleges

Washington & Jefferson College: A Legacy of Empowering Minds

Washington & Jefferson College, nestled in Washington, Pennsylvania, made headlines on October 11 when it proudly announced a $50 million estate gift from Anica Donnan Rawnsley. This monumental contribution stands as the largest donation in the institution’s illustrious 242-year history.

Anica Rawnsley, who passed away in August, was a fervent advocate for the transformative power of education. The Rawnsley gift will pave the way for the establishment of a scholarship in her name, designed to provide much-needed financial assistance to students from the Washington County, PA region who choose to pursue their education at W&J. This initiative represents a profound testament to her vision of making quality education accessible to future generations.

While the exact criteria for scholarship eligibility and the schedule for awarding these scholarships will be revealed at a later date, it’s evident that the Rawnsley gift will play a pivotal role in shaping the academic journeys of countless students.

Washington & Jefferson College proudly recognizes Anica Rawnsley’s significant familial ties to the institution, as several members of her family, including her father, stepfather, two grandfathers, and two uncles, have walked the hallowed halls of this institution. In 1975, Ms. Rawnsley made history as the first female trustee of Washington & Jefferson, and in 2003, the college bestowed upon her an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

Washington College: A Monumental Gift for Scholarships

On October 12, Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, unveiled a momentous development in its storied history – a $54.7 million gift from The Hodson Trust. This remarkable contribution marks the single largest gift ever received by the institution in its 240-year existence.

The entirety of the Hodson gift will be allocated to augment the college’s student scholarship endowment, elevating the total worth of the endowment to a remarkable $325 million. This transformative gift embodies the college’s dedication to ensuring accessibility to a top-notch educational experience.

Recognizing the financial constraints that often deter promising students from pursuing higher education, Washington College has pledged to guarantee a minimum scholarship of $30,000 per year (a cumulative $120,000 over four years) to any incoming student boasting a commendable 3.3 grade point average, provided they apply by December 1.

The Hodson Trust, a philanthropic entity rooted in the legacy of Col. Clarence Hodson, played a pivotal role in reshaping the educational landscape. Established in 1920, the trust has left an indelible mark on education by generously supporting institutions like Washington College.

Hood College: A Historic Gift for Promising Scholars

Hood College, a renowned liberal arts institution in Frederick, Maryland, entered the limelight with the revelation of the largest gift in its 130-year history – a staggering $54 million, also courtesy of The Hodson Trust.

This monumental endowment is poised to bolster undergraduate scholarships, marking a transformative moment in the college’s mission to prioritize affordability and access to higher education. The gift is expected to augment the college’s endowment by an impressive 42%.

The President of Hood College, Andrea E. Chapdelaine, expressed profound gratitude to The Hodson Trust for their unwavering support. The commitment to exclusively allocate these funds for scholarships underscores Hood College’s dedication to meeting the financial needs of students with exceptional academic aptitude and demonstrated leadership in their communities.

The Hodson Trust’s legacy is deeply intertwined with Hood College, having generously contributed over $150 million to the institution over the years. This final gift stands as a testament to the enduring impact of The Hodson Trust at Hood College, ensuring that their legacy will persist for generations to come.

For decades, The Hodson Trust has been a pillar of support for students across Maryland, extending its philanthropic reach to institutions like Hood College, St. John’s College, Johns Hopkins University, and Washington College. Their contributions have fueled scholarships, faculty support, research, internships, and vital capital projects across these esteemed educational institutions.


These extraordinary gifts to Washington & Jefferson College, Washington College, and Hood College underscore the profound impact of philanthropy on the realm of higher education. These institutions are now better equipped than ever to provide a transformative educational experience to a wider range of students, particularly those from underserved communities. As these generous donations enhance scholarship opportunities and further enrich the educational landscape, they stand as a testament to the enduring importance of investing in knowledge and the students of promise who will shape the future.

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