Mystery donor gives $4 million to Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University recently received one of the largest gifts from an individual in its history-but university officials have no idea who gave it.

An anonymous donor has given $4 million to Wake Forest University to create a scholarship fund for students from lower and middle-income families. The gift was made in a transfer of stock.

While university officials often work with donors who request anonymity, what makes this gift unusual is that no one at the university knows the donor’s identity, said Robert Mills, an associate vice president for university advancement. Mills was contacted several months ago by the donor’s investment manager at a Wall Street firm.

“Typically, when an anonymous gift is made, someone at the university knows who made it,” he said. “I have never heard of one like this, here or elsewhere, and certainly nothing of this proportion.”

In a statement to the university, the donor specified that the gift be used for scholarships for students who have “a record of outstanding academic achievement or potential; a high degree of intellectual curiosity; the enthusiasm and courage to take advantage of a college opportunity; a sense of service and social responsibility; and perhaps special talents in some aspect of the liberal arts.”

Using that guideline and with the donor’s approval, university officials have used the gift to establish the Heritage Scholarship. This new need-based scholarship will provide financial aid to the university’s historic student constituency- students from lower and middle-income families, students from small towns and rural areas, and students who are the first in their families to attend college.

As many as 32 Heritage Scholarships could be awarded to students this spring for the fall 2001 semester. Each scholarship is renewable for up to four years and will cover up to 75 percent of the student’s college expenses.

“The donor clearly understands the need for scholarships at private universities and knew that scholarships are the top priority of our upcoming capital campaign,” said Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. “This gift will be of tremendous benefit in maintaining access to a Wake Forest education for all students.”

The gift will be applied toward the university’s capital campaign, “The Campaign for Wake Forest University: Honoring the Promise.” The campaign will have its public kickoff in April.

Categories: University Announcement