Record donations to colleges in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Or a record might fall through a sustained effort to address a particular education challenge. Trinity Washington University announced in December that philanthropists Bill and Joanne Conway gave the D.C. school $11 million to fund nursing scholarships and relieve problems arising from the coronavirus pandemic. It is part of a long push from the Conways to support nursing education at various colleges. Bill Conway is a co-founder of the D.C.-based investment firm the Carlyle Group.

“Great example of how great donors can truly make a huge difference in the lives of students and the communities they serve,” said Trinity Washington President Patricia McGuire.

Below is a list of the largest single announced donations to selected schools in the District, Maryland and Virginia, according to information the schools provided. The figures are not adjusted for inflation. So a gift of, say, $10 million, made years or decades ago would have been more valuable than an identical donation made today. Another caveat: Donors often make multiple pledges that add up to major sums.

Bloomberg’s 2018 gift to Johns Hopkins remains the largest donation to a U.S. college or university, according to a list kept by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Often, huge gifts flow to wealthy private schools with a wealthy alumni base. In other words, the rich in higher education get richer. Scott’s gifts broke that pattern. Many of her donations went to public universities and private colleges unaccustomed to headline-generating largesse. Scott’s ex-husband is Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

  • American University (private): $31.2 million, the valuation of art donated by the Trustees of The Corcoran Gallery of Art. Announced in 2018.
  • Catholic University (private): $20 million from Bill and Joanne Conway for a nursing school building. Announced in 2019. The couple later pledged an identical amount to double their contribution for the project.
  • Gallaudet University (private): $12 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a conference center on campus. Announced in 1991.
  • Georgetown University (private): $100 million from Frank H. McCourt Jr., to establish and endow a public policy school. Announced in 2013.
  • George Washington University (private): $40 million from the Milken Institute to support the school of public health. Announced in 2014.
  • Howard University (private): $40 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in July.
  • Trinity Washington University (private): $11 million from Bill and Joanne Conway for nursing scholarships and pandemic relief. Announced Dec. 21.
  • University of the District of Columbia (public): $1.5 million, starting in 2009, from the Charles and Hilda Mason Trust.
  • Bowie State University (public): $25 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in December.
  • Goucher College (private): $6.6 million from Katharine E. Welsh for a campus building. Received in 2016.
  • Johns Hopkins University (private): $1.8 billion, from Mike Bloomberg, for student financial aid. Announced in 2018.
  • McDaniel College (private): $8.1 million from the joint estate of Thomas and Catharine Eaton. Announced in 2001.
  • Morgan State University (public): $40 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in December.
  • Mount St. Mary’s University (private): $6 million from John J. and Patrick J. Rooney for an athletic center. Announced in 2019.
  • St. John’s College (private): $50 million from Warren Winiarski for the endowment. Announced in 2018.
  • Towson University (public): $10.2 million from the Robert M. Fisher Memorial Foundation to support the college of science and mathematics. Announced in 2005.
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County (public): $6 million from the Sherman Family Foundation, doubling its total contribution to a UMBC comprehensive campaign. Announced in 2017.
  • University of Maryland at College Park (public): $219 million from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation for scholarships, faculty positions and other purposes. Announced in 2017.
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore (public): $20 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in December.
  • U.S. Naval Academy Foundation: $47.7 million from J. Ronald Terwilliger for an academic center at the Naval Academy and other purposes at the federal military institution in Annapolis. Announced in 2019.
  • College of William & Mary (public): $50 million from an anonymous married couple, both alumni, for scholarships for law and business students and other purposes. Announced in 2015.
  • George Mason University (public): More than $50 million from the estate of Allison and Dorothy Rouse for the law school. Announced in 2019.
  • Hampton University (private): $30 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in July.
  • James Madison University (public): $16.8 million worth of rare minerals for its mineral museum. This unusual gift, a bequest from the late Peter L. Via of Roanoke, was announced in November.
  • Norfolk State University (public): $40 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in December.
  • University of Richmond (private): $50 million from E. Claiborne Robins Sr. in 1969.
  • University of Virginia (public): $120 million from the Quantitative Foundation, a private charity associated with the married couple Jaffray and Merrill Woodriff. The gift supported the launch of a school of data science. Announced in 2019.
  • Virginia State University (public): $30 million from MacKenzie Scott for unrestricted use. Announced in December.
  • Virginia Military Institute (public): $15 million from Robert B. Rust estate for scholarship endowment. Announced in 2009.
  • Virginia Tech (public): $50 million from Heywood and Cynthia Fralin and from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust to support biomedical research. Announced in 2018.
  • Washington and Lee University (private): $100 million from an anonymous donor for financial aid and other purposes. Announced in June 2007. Subsequently the donor was identified as Rupert H. Johnson Jr.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the first name of a donor to Goucher College. It was Katharine E. Welsh.

This story will be updated.

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