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Washington and Lee Receives $17 Million for Faculty Support

Washington and Lee University has received $17 million from Gerry Lenfest, an alumnus and Philadelphia philanthropist, to establish two endowments in support of faculty sabbaticals and summer research.

The current gift, combined with a $33 million challenge gift Lenfest made in 2007, represents a $50 million commitment to Washington and Lee’s faculty. These gifts are an early commitment in Washington and Lee’s new campaign, which is expected to be launched publicly in 2010.

“Washington and Lee’s faculty are known for their dedication and commitment to the highest standards of their profession,” said Lenfest, a member of W&L’s Class of 1953 and of the W&L School of Law Class of 1955. “My life benefited from great W&L teachers, and I am happy to make sure that today’s students have that same benefit.” Lenfest is president and CEO of the Lenfest Group of Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

“Gerry Lenfest’s support of Washington and Lee is simply remarkable,” said W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “These latest gifts permit the University’s faculty to remain current in their fields and make their own scholarly contributions, which will ultimately translate into much richer classroom experiences for our students. We are so grateful to Gerry for his generosity and his foresight.”

Lenfest’s latest gift will establish the H.F. Lenfest Endowment for Faculty Summer Support and the H.F. Lenfest Endowment for Faculty Sabbaticals. In the former, income from the endowment will provide summer support for scholarly endeavors of undergraduate faculty as a means of attracting, retaining and developing excellent professors committed to the educational values of W&L. The income will allow the University to increase the number and amounts of summer grants awarded. Combined with other University funding, the Lenfest Endowment will allow for at least 100 individual grants each year.

The endowment for sabbatical support, in combination with other University resources, will fund year-long salaried sabbaticals for at least 10 faculty members each year. Both of these new programs will be administered by the University’s provost in consultation with the deans of the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.

In 2007, Lenfest made the $33 million challenge grant to help W&L pay its professors competitive salaries. The gift requires a 1:1 match by Dec. 31, 2010. As one feature of the challenge, donors can now endow a $2.5 million professorship at W&L in the name of the donor or as the donor designates by providing a $1.25 million gift or pledge, and Lenfest will match the donation by providing the other half.