Washington University Receives $20M Gift for Scholarships

Washington University has received a $20 million challenge gift from philanthropist John McDonnell.

Washington University has received a $20 million challenge gift from philanthropist John McDonnell. Photo: Shutterstock

Washington University, based in St. Louis, has announced a $20 million pledge from trustee John F. McDonell.

This is one of the largest single scholarship gifts in the history of the university.

The pledge is to create a challenge fund in support of scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at Washington University, as part of the institution’s Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University.

The gift establishes the McDonnell Scholarship Challenge, which will match all new or increased gifts for scholarships and fellowships.

“In 2009, a generous challenge by John McDonnell helped to launch Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University, which reached its goal two years ahead of schedule. Now he has stepped forward once again to help us reach our scholarship goal for Leading Together,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“Washington University students all share extraordinary potential to make a difference in the world,” McDonnell said. “They will go on to found and manage organizations, find cures for diseases, fill important government posts in this country and around the world, author the next Pulitzer or Booker Prize-winning novel, and design the next architectural masterpiece. What a loss it would be, and how sad it would be, if, we, who could have helped, didn’t.”

The Leading Together campaign has raised more than $440 million for scholarship support to date.

“John McDonnell has been a dedicated leader, tireless advocate, and visionary philanthropist on behalf of Washington University for more than 50 years, and we are deeply grateful for this wonderful support,” Wrighton said. “Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to raise half a billion dollars or more to help future generations of students achieve their dreams of a Washington University education.”

To qualify for the match, gifts and commitments must be received by June 30, 2018, when the campaign ends. Multi-year pledges payable through June 30, 2023, are encouraged and will count toward the campaign total.

McDonnell earned his MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University, and the university awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 2006. He received the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal in 1999; the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest honor, the “Search” award, in 2005; and the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2013. His wife, Anne, is also a graduate of Washington University, and their daughter Alicia, also a Washington University alum, is serving as vice chair for scholarships and fellowships for the Leading Together campaign.


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