Hollins University, one of the country’s oldest institutions of higher education for women, announced today that it has received a $75 million gift from an anonymous alumna. This is the largest single gift in Hollins’ history and the largest donation ever received by a women’s college. In addition, it represents one of the largest single donations ever given to a college or university solely by a female donor, as well as one of the largest ever to a small liberal arts college.
The gift will establish the Levavi Oculos Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will exclusively fund scholarships and address undergraduate financial need for Hollins’ undergraduate students. Unlike most major donations which become active at a future date or only over a long period of time, this gift will be provided in $25 million increments to the Hollins endowment over the next three fiscal years, beginning no later than June 30, 2022.
“This gift is such a profound and powerful statement about the value of higher education for women,” said President Mary Dana Hinton. “The transformational educational opportunities created by it will have a visible and sustained impact for generations of women to come at Hollins. Most of all, this generosity will enable future students who otherwise would not be able to attend college to access that opportunity.”
Gifts at this level, at a school of Hollins’ size, have outsized impact on issues of accessibility for traditionally underserved and limited-income students. “The need for an educated citizenry and women’s leadership development is greater now than ever, yet higher education access is more challenging than ever,” Hinton continued. “This gift allows Hollins to be able to provide greater access, now and into the future. We are proud to be a steward of this gift and to be able to touch the future in this way.”
Financial security and long-term stability are critically important issues for women’s colleges like Hollins, whose numbers have declined from more than 200 in the 1960s to fewer than 40 today.
The donor, a Hollins alumna, agreed: “Hollins’ mission and the value of its enduring presence and direction as a progressive institution were the catalyst for my gift and the urgency of making the funds available immediately. It ensures Hollins can move forward, with confidence, as an institution committed to women and the liberal arts.”
Hollins, founded in 1842, has become an institution of access and support for many students today. Currently, the undergraduate student body is 36% low-income, 34% first generation, and 30% students of color.
The transformative nature of this gift will help build a greater foundation of long-term equity and inclusion for Hollins, noted Alexandra Trower ’86, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “The gift strongly reaffirms the importance of our mission and will help Hollins further its commitment to equity and inclusion in the coming years.”
The first $25 million installment will establish the Levavi Oculos Endowed Scholarship Fund in support of scholarships for undergraduate students beginning in the fall of 2023. By the 2025-26 academic year, Hollins estimates that a minimum of 125 students – just under 20% of the current undergraduate student body – will benefit from this gift.