Wabash College launches fundraising campaign spearheaded by $40M gift from alum

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Wabash College on Friday kicked off the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the school's 186-year history by announcing a $40 million gift from an alumnus and his wife.

Paul Woolls, a 1975 graduate of the all-male college in Crawforsville, and his wife, Betty O'Shaughnessy Woolls, contributed the gift, which is the largest ever given to the school. 

The couple is serving as co-chairs of Wabash's Great Steps campaign, which seeks to raise $225 million. School officials said at an event Friday that $150 million already has been raised in the "leadership phase" of the campaign, including the Woolls' gift.

The campaign is intended to focus on four specific areas: further endowing Wabash’s scholarship programs; funding faculty professorships, chairs, and academic programs; providing immersive learning experiences for all Wabash students; and funding capital projects and the annual fund.

“It is impossible for me to overstate the importance of Paul and Betty’s gift,” President Gregory Hess said. “It is a truly transformational gift that matches our vision to be a men’s college that matters — to men, women, and the world. This gift will help Wabash be a catalyst for world-changing ideas and we will cultivate an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration.”

Paul Woolls is a retired attorney who now owns Progeny Winery in Napa, California. Betty O’Shaughnessy Woolls, a former real estate developer and entrepreneur, founded O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery in Napa in 1996.

More than 30 gifts of more than $1 million each were announced at the campaign kickoff on Friday. They included donations for endowed scholarships, faculty chairs, funding for Wabash’s Liberal Arts Plus initiatives, gifts to enhance Wabash’s recreation and athletics facilities, and resources that will permanently endow cross-cultural domestic and international immersion learning experiences.


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