Late Schoolteacher Leaves Washington & Jefferson College $50M Endowed Scholarship

The college's first female trustee never attended the school, but left $50 million to create a scholarship for regional students with financial needs.
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Published on October 17, 2023
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Photo Courtesy of Washington & Jefferson College
  • Anica Donnan Rawnsley became the first female trustee at Washington & Jefferson College five years after the college became coeducational in 1970.
  • W&J College gave her an honorary doctorate of public service in 2003.
  • She earned her bachelor's degree at Goucher College and her master's in education at Bank Street College of Education.
  • The college has yet to determine eligibility and timing for the scholarship.

Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students will have new scholarship opportunities thanks to the largest donation in the college's history by the college's first female trustee. She also never attended the school.

W&J, a liberal arts college in Washington, PA, announced last week that Anica Donnan Rawnsley left a $50 million gift to fund scholarships for regional students with financial needs after passing on Aug. 9, 2023.

The college has yet to determine eligibility and timing for the first scholarship awards.

Rawnsley never attended W&J College; the school was an all-male institution at the time. She graduated from Goucher College and earned her master's in education from Bank Street College of Education.

Photo of Anica Donnan Rawnsley.
Courtesy of Washington & Jefferson College

She was a schoolteacher before joining the college's board of trustees in 1975, just five years after the college became coeducational.

W&J wrote that she developed an affinity for the college since six men in her family, including her father, graduated from W&J.

In 2003, the college awarded her an honorary doctorate of public service.

"She had a bold vision to make it possible for future generations to afford and benefit from a W&J education," W&J President John C. Knapp said. "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."

Other past school teachers have donated millions to colleges they loved after passing: Alice R. Dentler left $1.5 million to her alma mater Manchester University, and Carol Mathews LeBeau left $1 million to her alma mater William Paterson University.