Hollins University has received the largest single gift assurance in the school’s 175-year history: Elizabeth Hall McDonnell and her husband, James S. McDonnell III, have arranged a commitment through the JSM Charitable Trust of $20 million.
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, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “We rejoice in this truly significant milestone as we celebrate this year our 175th anniversary of educating women who are leading, exploring, transforming, and inspiring our communities and the world.”
Elizabeth McDonnell is a member of Hollins’ class of 1962 and has served on the university’s Board of Trustees since 2008. She and her husband reside 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 Hollins President Nancy Gray. “This designation will allow us to address priority needs or fund exceptional opportunities, wherever the impact for Hollins will be the most significant.”