Focus on Philanthropy

on February 9 | in Giving, Homepage | by

History-making gift announced at 1842 gathering

$20 million commitment to unrestricted endowment

Library and Chapel

Elizabeth Hall McDonnell ’62 and her husband, James S. McDonnell III, have arranged a commitment through the JSM Charitable Trust of $20 million, the largest single gift assurance in the school’s 175-year history.

The pledge is intended for the university’s unrestricted endowment.

“We applaud Libby and James McDonnell for their vision and generosity, and the positive and lasting influence they are making on the history of Hollins,” said Judy Lambeth ’73, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “We rejoice in this truly significant milestone as we celebrate our 175th anniversary of educating women who are leading, exploring, transforming, and inspiring our communities and the world.”

Elizabeth and James McDonnell

Elizabeth and James McDonnell

Elizabeth McDonnell has served on the university’s Board of Trustees since 2008. She and her husband live in St. Louis, and this gift commitment continues their legacy of giving to the university. In 2015, they committed $6.5 million through the St. Louis Community Foundation to fund renovations to the university’s Dana Science Building and Hollins Theatre and to support visiting faculty in the theatre and playwriting programs. They also gave $3 million through the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation in 2009 to transform and update the theatre space.

“I thank the McDonnells for their remarkable generosity and informed understanding of the importance of an unrestricted endowment,” said President Gray. “This designation will allow us to address priority needs or fund exceptional opportunities, wherever the impact for Hollins will be the most significant. I hope this commitment will inspire all who care about Hollins to make the best gift they can in this 175th year.”


Dana renovation to begin after commencement

$6.5 million project replaces labs, refreshes lobby

Dana Lobby rendering

Architect’s rendering of proposed Dana lobby

Hollins administrators and members of the Board of Trustees have been working with VMDO Architects in Charlottesville and Page/SST Planner in Washington, D.C., on plans to renovate Dana Science Building.

The project is scheduled to begin just after graduation this May and will continue through the next fall term. It involves the complete renovation of five laboratories (two in biology and three in chemistry), new research and preparation space for both biology and chemistry, a new chemistry stockroom, and new office suites (six offices per suite and a group study space and conference room).

Students in Dana labFour labs will be refreshed (three in biology and one in physics) and will include new casework, services (water, electrical, gas, etc.), and technology. The refreshed labs are scheduled to be completed at the end of summer 2017 and be available for courses in the fall.

The lobby will be refreshed with new flooring and a new ceiling. Part of the plan includes recycling the current labs’ soapstone tabletops as part of the wall display, with digital screens on which to share information about the science program, student research, and alumnae in science.

The renovation of Dana was made possible by the generosity of several donors, led by Elizabeth Hall ’62 and James McDonnell through the Saint Louis Community Foundation. Additional commitments came from the Dickson Foundation, Inc.; Cameron McDonald Vowell ’68; an anonymous alumna; the Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson Jr. Charitable Trust; and the Lyda Hill [’64] Foundation.

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