WOOSTER, Ohio – Wooster alumni and their families, including two members of the class of 1941 marking their 75th reunion, returned to campus this weekend to celebrate the ties that continue to bind them to the college and to one another. One hundred and thirty five members of the Class of 1966, who graduated in the centennial year of the college’s founding, came together on the cusp of the sesquicentennial to announce a reunion gift of more than $13.5 million.
That total, raised over the five years leading up to their fiftieth reunion, was made possible by 74 percent class participation, and represents a significant number of bequest commitments as well as cash. It includes a $2.5 million gift from the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation, Inc. Walton attended The College of Wooster for two years as a member of the class of 1966.
The class has allocated $1.66 million of their reunion gift to fund remodeling of the lower level of Lowry Center, and another $1.66 million to help endow the Howard F. Lowry Professorship, in honor of the man who served as Wooster’s president for more than 20 years, and introduced the mentored student research project known as Independent Study, or I.S. Additional gifts from the classes of 1967 and 1968, including a $1 million commitment from Tim Smucker ’67 and Jennie Smucker ’68, will complete that endowment.
Speaking on behalf of his classmates at the annual meeting of the Alumni Association on Saturday morning, a kilt-clad Walt Painter Hopkins – who has served as class president for the past 45 years – noted that the endowed professorship fulfills a request made by Lowry himself, when he was told that the college’s student center would be named in his honor. “These gifts come with love, they come with gratitude, and we hope to inspire you as you have inspired us,” Hopkins said.
During the annual meeting, Bryan E. Rodda ’06 received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award and Jerrold K. Footlick ’56 received the John D. McKee Alumni Volunteer Award. The Sara L. Patton Stewardship Award was presented to Gerald K. and Janet Ackerly Carlisle of the class of 1956, and the late Lila May Walkden Flounders ’46.
On Saturday afternoon, the college honored this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Awards: George Davis ’64, emeritus professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona; Elizabeth A. Eaton ’77, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; and Lucius F. Ellsworth ’63, founding president of the Appalachian School of Law.