Wellesley Announces Largest Donation In College History

October 26, 2015
An interior photo of the Wellesley fieldhouse decorated for the launch of the Campaign for Wellesley

WELLESLEY, Massachusetts (October 26, 2015)—Wellesley College, the leading liberal arts college for educating women, today announced a historic $50 million gift, given by two Wellesley graduates to create greater opportunity for women in the 21st Century and to empower the next generation of women leaders. Reflecting Wellesley’s commitment to investing in the potential of women, the visionary gift launches a $500 million comprehensive campaign—the largest fundraising effort to be undertaken by a women’s college—and sets in motion an ambitious College to Career Initiative.

“In making this gift, these alumnae are expressing—with great conviction—their belief in Wellesley’s mission, and in the imperative of investing in women and women’s education as the surest way to improve the world. The gift represents the strongest possible endorsement of a liberal arts education and its power to prepare our students for any calling that inspires them,” said H. Kim Bottomly, President of Wellesley College. She added, “The aim is not only to enhance our students’ personal transition from Wellesley to the world, but to transform the very world into which they move.”

The world’s preeminent college for women, Wellesley has supported and championed women’s intellectual and social development and leadership for over 100 years. The College provides women with an exceptional educational experience and supports their ability and determination to make a difference in the world. From secretaries of state to award-winning writers, and from CEOs to scientific leaders, Wellesley alumnae and their contributions in every arena illustrate the point.

This unprecedented $50 million commitment will multiply the powerful effect that Wellesley and its graduates have on the world. The College to Career Initiative is, first, a comprehensive reinvention of Wellesley’s career services function. Taking advantage of Wellesley’s network of alumnae, widely considered to be the world’s most powerful women’s network, the initiative will reimagine how the College introduces the world of opportunity to Wellesley women over their four years on campus and over the course of their lives. It will help them find and pursue the careers of their choosing—and the effect they will have on the world. 

“The gift is also intended to bring Wellesley to the world in a more pronounced, intentional way. It will enable us to strengthen our voice and influence through the remarkable work of our faculty, students, and alumnae and by forging partnerships around the globe,” said Andrew Shennan, Wellesley Provost and Dean of the College

In the spirit of women claiming their roles as leaders and achievers, the gift challenges the long-held assumption that women philanthropists do not give as generously as men. With a campus where the majority of the buildings bear the name of a woman, more than 50% of alumnae making a gift each year, and more than $10 million raised annually in unrestricted support, Wellesley consistently dispels that notion.

Campaign Launch Draws Alumnae Leaders from around the World

A dinner to announce the campaign Friday night on Wellesley’s campus drew alumnae leaders from all over the world, including Linda Wertheimer ’65, who emceed the event; Callie Crossley ’73Ophelia Dahl ’94, and Robin Sparkman ’91, who led the Campaign Launch keynote session; Chair of the Wellesley Board of Trustees, Laura Daignault Gates ’72; former Wellesley President, Nan Overholser Keohane ’61; Campaign Co-Chairs, Dorothy Chao Jenkins ’68Sidney R. KnafelLaura Russell Malkin ’82, and Susan L. Wagner ’82; and Campaign Executive Committee Members, Sandy Polk Guthman ’65Lynn Dixon Johnston ’64Betsy Wood Knapp ’64Claudi B. Malone ’63Beth K. Pfeiffer ’73Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56Lulu Chow Wang ’66Mary H. White ’79, and Bunny Winter ’70; and Honorary Co-Chairs Luella Gross Goldberg ’58 and Tess Mall Mullarkey ’60.

Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69 made a video appearance, saying of Wellesley: “It is a special place. It helps women discover our talents; it gives us the freedom to set our own paths; it shows women that when we work hard and stay true to our values there's no limit to what we can achieve.” Award-winning filmmaker and Wellesley friend, Mary Mazzio premiered her short film, “This Is The Place,” which captures the impact of Wellesley on the lives of women. The film features prominent Wellesley alumnae who have made a difference across a variety of fields, including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ’59, CNBC business news reporter Michelle Caruso-Cabrera ’91, economist Halimatou Hima Moussa Dioula ’10, author and arts patron Maryam Homayoun-Eisler ’89, Hearst editorial director Ellen Levine ’64, astronaut Pamela Melroy ’83, architect Liz Ogbu ’98, news analyst Cokie Roberts ’64, and television anchor and journalist Diane Sawyer ’67.

Addressing the some 600 people in attendance, President Bottomly said, “In thousands of ways, in every corner of the world, Wellesley is a transformative force for tangible good… With the launch of this campaign, we are doing nothing short of challenging ourselves to be at once the premier college for women, and a global center of women’s leadership.”

Funds raised through the campaign will also bolster Wellesley’s world-class academic programs, including faculty and student research and teaching innovation; increase endowed funding of Wellesley’s financial aid program, ensuring that the student body of the future continues to represent the diversity of the global community; and support the renovation and renewal of the College’s extraordinary spaces, with a focus on academic, residential, and athletic facilities.

The College’s last major campaign, which ended in 2005, raised $472.3 million, setting the record for the most funds raised by a liberal arts college.

About Wellesley College
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to some 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.

Press Contact:
Sofiya Cabalquinto, Wellesley College, 781-283-3321, scabalqu@wellesley.edu
Chris Hennessy, Wellesley College, 781-283-3201, chenness@wellesley.edu