Donor Stories

We treasure you, our donors, for supporting Hollins and our mission with such loyalty and generosity. Here are a few highlights of alumnae and friends who are giving back.


$6.5 million for science, theatre, playwriting

Elizabeth “Libby” Hall McDonnell ’62 and her husband, James, have committed $6.5 million to fund renovations to the university’s Dana Science Building and Hollins Theatre, and expand the number of faculty in the theatre and playwriting programs. The McDonnells’ gift commitment continues their legacy of generosity to Hollins. In 2009, they pledged $3 million to transform and update the theatre space. Three years later, the Hollins Theatre was dedicated in their honor. More info about the McDonnells’ commitment

John and Susan Gager Jackson

To continue helping writers find their way at Hollins, Susan Gager Jackson ’68 and John Jackson have endowed the Gager Family Fellowships through a $1 million gift from the Liana Family Foundation. The fellowships will provide tuition assistance and stipends for graduate students in the M.F.A. in creative writing program. The Jacksons actively encourage and support writers and writing careers through their philanthropic Liana Foundation. In 2008, the Jacksons gave Hollins $5 million to found the Jackson Center for Creative Writing.

Bill and Betsy Moore Johnston

Trustee Bill Johnston and Betsy Moore Johnston ’62 recognize that family emergencies can weigh heavily on a student, or even stop her education in its tracks. The death of a parent, a parent’s illness or job loss, or another catastrophic event can severely strain a family’s finances.

“During the economic downturn, many parents lost their jobs and their children could not continue their education,” Betsy says. “We want a scholarship that will enable a student to continue at Hollins.”

Together, the Johnstons have created the Johnston Family Scholarship at Hollins to meet that exact purpose. The scholarship will provide tuition assistance to students who face a family emergency.

Margaret Wise Brown

Before there was an official creative writing program at Hollins, there was Margaret Wise Brown ’32. She is one of our most recognized and widely read writers to this day, even though she died in 1952. Brown wrote dozens of children’s classics, including The Runaway Bunny and the quintessential bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. Brown was one of the first authors to write specifically for children ages two to five, and she developed the concept of the durable board book.

James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death, has given Hollins an endowed fund to create the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. He established the award to link Brown’s name permanently with her alma mater and to honor her significance to the field.

R. Lowell Wine


Renamed in memory of R. Lowell Wine

A group of alumnae who majored in statistics have joined together to honor the memory of R. Lowell Wine, professor emeritus of statistics. Wine’s son and daughter-in-law, J. David and Mary Ann, and the alumnae have provided the funding to name the new Center for Learning Excellence (CLE) in memory of Wine.

Currently housed on the first floor of East, the CLE (consisting of the Writing Center and the Quantitative Reasoning Center) will move to the Wyndham Robertson Library. The new center will include a classroom and areas for tutoring, public speaking and oral presentation training, and a place for students to engage in Skype interviews with potential employers.

Moving the CLE from a residence hall to the academic heart of campus will raise its visibility, while honoring Wine’s tenure and commitment to decades of students. In addition to naming the CLE for Wine, the funds will help Hollins meet the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation challenge. The foundation has challenged Hollins to raise $400,000 for capital projects by May 2015 to receive a $200,000 grant.

Wine established the statistics department at Hollins in 1957, at that time the only women’s college in the nation with a separate statistics department. An adventurous soul, Wine traveled extensively, and his travelogue slideshows were popular events on campus. He taught at Hollins until his retirement in 1985 and retained close ties with the university until his death in 2014.

Reunion celebration

Three 1964 alumnae were the driving force behind the class’s record-breaking 50th reunion gift: Suzanne McCormick Taylor, Suzie McKnight Reno, and Sarah Holland got 67 of their classmates to attend reunion, and 72 percent of the class to contribute to the total class gift of $1,058,603. Read more

Students in classroom

Talented and motivated first- and second-year students at Hollins who want to work extensively on interdisciplinary and collaborative projects of their own design now have that opportunity through a new honors program. Thanks to an anonymous donor, the honors program is fully endowed with a $1 million gift. Read more


The Career Center features a fresh new look and greater functionality, thanks to the generosity of an alumna trustee. Renovations to the center’s first-floor location in West Building were made possible by the financial support of Linda Koch Lorimer ’74 and her husband, Charley Ellis. Read more

Wyndham Robertson

Wyndham Robertson ’58 knew something was up. After all, when you’ve served your alma mater as a trustee for thirty-one years, they won’t just let you ride off into the sunset when you announce your plans to retire. In addition to an event filled with tributes, her friends managed to surprise Wyndham: with a new $2 million Wyndham Robertson Scholarship Fund, contributed by more than 200 devoted fans. Read more

Alumnae Cottage

The renovations to the Alumnae Cottage, completed thanks to anonymous donor, feature the first geothermal heating and cooling system on campus, low-maintenance building materials containing recycled content, and high energy-efficient appliances. The cottage, built in 1905, is the first building on Hollins’ campus to earn certification by the U.S. Green Building Council under their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program.