The front lawn of W&J's Old Main building during fall.

Washington & Jefferson College Announces $50 Million Gift to Establish Endowed Scholarship Fund for Regional Students with Financial Need

Created: October 11, 2023  |  Last Updated: October 13, 2023  |  Category:   |  Tagged: ,

Washington, PA (October 11, 2023) – Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) today announced it will receive a transformational gift of approximately $50 million to support student scholarships – the largest philanthropic donation to the College in its 242-year history and one of the largest ever to a liberal arts college in the United States.

Photo of Anica Rawnsley
Anica Donnan Rawnsley

The generous gift is provided by the estate of Anica Donnan Rawnsley, who became W&J’s first female trustee in 1975 and passed away on August 9, 2023. The scholarship endowment bearing her name will provide need-based support to students from the Washington County, PA, region who enroll at W&J.

“Anica Rawnsley was a schoolteacher in her younger years and believed passionately in the life-changing power of education,” said W&J President John C. Knapp. “She had a bold vision to make it possible for future generations to afford and benefit from a W&J education.”

President Knapp said the new scholarship fund will allow the College to invest millions of dollars annually in the people of its community and region. “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.”

Criteria for scholarship eligibility and the timing of the first awards will be announced at a later date.

Group photo with Anica Rawnsley after receiving an honorary doctorate
Anica Donnan Rawnsley receives an honorary doctorate from W&J.

Born in 1929, Ms. Rawnsley grew up in Washington, PA, but did not attend W&J, which was an all-male institution until becoming coeducational in 1970. She graduated instead from Goucher College and later earned a master’s degree in education from Bank Street College of Education. Yet her affinity for W&J had been instilled at an early age by many members of her family who were W&J graduates, including her father, John H. Donnan (1900); her stepfather, H. Gilmore Schmidt (1930); her two grandfathers, John White Donnan (1866) and H.P. Chambers (1881); and two uncles, Alvan E. Donnan (1909) and Smith N. Whitworth (1911).

In 2003, W&J awarded Ms. Rawnsley an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, recognizing her community leadership and service. In addition to her 12 years on the W&J Board of Trustees, she carried on her family’s tradition of civic involvement by serving as president of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Easter Seal Society and as a director of the American Cancer Society and Friends of Citizens Library, among other organizations.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pennsylvania, is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit or call 888-W-AND-JAY.