ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — One of the country’s oldest higher learning institutions for women, Hollins University, announced Thursday morning it has received a $75 million gift from an anonymous alumna.
Not only is this this the largest single gift in Hollins University’s history and the largest donation ever received by a women’s college, but it is also one of the largest single donations ever given to a college or university solely by a female donor, as well as one of the largest ever given to a small liberal arts college, according to officials.
The university says this gift will establish the Levavi Oculos Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will exclusively fund scholarships and address financial need for undergraduate students.
While most major donations only become active at a future date or over a long period of time, this gift will reportedly be provided in $25 million increments to the Hollins University endowment over the next three fiscal years, beginning no later than June 30, 2022.
“This gift is such a profound and powerful statement about the value of higher education for women,” said President Mary Dana Hinton. “The transformational educational opportunities created by it will have a visible and sustained impact for generations of women to come at Hollins. Most of all, this generosity will enable future students who otherwise would not be able to attend college to access that opportunity.”
Gifts this large — especially at a school the size of Hollins University — have a significant impact on accessibility issues for traditionally underserved and limited-income students, school officials say.
“The need for an educated citizenry and women’s leadership development is greater now than ever, yet higher education access is more challenging than ever,” Hinton continued. “This gift allows Hollins to be able to provide greater access, now and into the future. We are proud to be a steward of this gift and to be able to touch the future in this way.”
According to the university, financial security and long-term stability are critically important issues for women’s colleges like Hollins, which have seen a decline in numbers over the decades, going from more than 200 in the 1960s to less than 40 today.
The donor, a Hollins alumna, agreed: “Hollins’ mission and the value of its enduring presence and direction as a progressive institution were the catalyst for my gift and the urgency of making the funds available immediately. It ensures Hollins can move forward, with confidence, as an institution committed to women and the liberal arts.”
Hollins University — which was founded in 1842 — says its current undergraduate student body is 36 percent low-income, 34 percent first generation, and 30 percent students of color.
This gift’s transformative nature will help build a greater foundation of long-term equity and inclusion for Hollins, according to Alexandra Trower ’86, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees.
“The gift strongly reaffirms the importance of our mission and will help Hollins further its commitment to equity and inclusion in the coming years,” Trower said.
The first $25 million installment is set to establish the Levavi Oculos Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students starting in the fall of 2023, school officials say.
By the 2025-2026 academic year, Hollins University estimates that at least 125 students – just under 20 percent of the current undergraduate student body – will benefit from this gift.
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