Anica Donnan Rawnsley taught school as a young adult, and while she never attended Washington & Jefferson College, she developed an affinity for the place early on through family members who enrolled there and graduated.
Now, she has made gift of approximately $50 million to W&J — the biggest in its 242-year history and one of the largest to a liberal arts college ever in the U.S., officials said.
It will support need-based scholarships for students from the Washington area to attend W&J.
She was raised in Washington, Pa. At the time, W&J was an all-male college. It became coed in 1970.
She graduated instead from Goucher College and later earned a master’s degree in education from Bank Street College of Education, officials said. S
he became W&J’s first female trustee in 1975.
“Anica Rawnsley … believed passionately in the life-changing power of education,” said W&J President John C. Knapp. “She had a bold vision to make it possible for future generations to afford and benefit from a W&J education.”
Knapp said Rawnsley’s gift will allow W&J to invest millions of dollars annually in the people of its community and region.
“It was a privilege to know Anica and her passion for providing students in this area with an education of exceptional quality at a cost within their families’ reach,” Knapp said.
Her family members who passed through W&J included her father, John H. Donnan (1900); her stepfather, H. Gilmore Schmidt (1930); her two grandfathers, John White Donnan (1866) and H.P. Chambers (1881); and two uncles, Alvan E. Donnan (1909) and Smith N. Whitworth (1911).