Stephens College receives an unrestricted $15 million donation

Monday, February 24, 2014 | 7:15 p.m. CST; updated 9:45 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 25, 2014

COLUMBIA — Stephens College has received a $15 million gift from an anonymous donor for both its academic programs and new ventures.

A crowd gathered in Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall to hear President Dianne Lynch make what was described as an “historic announcement.” Bursts of applause filled the room as Lynch announced the amount of the donation — the largest in the school’s 180-year history.

Lynch emphasized the donor will remain anonymous, but the individual “believes deeply in this little college, her mission and her future.”

“It’s not atypical for a donor to want to remain anonymous at this scale of a gift,” Lynch said after the announcement, when asked why the donor is choosing not to come forward.

The donation is unrestricted, which means Stephens has full discretion about the ways it chooses to allocate the funds. Lynch said it will “help us invest in our vision of Stephens as a college renowned for its programs in the creative arts and health sciences.”

In December, Stephens announced it would begin offering a new bachelor of health sciences program in the 2014-15 school year. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in a variety of health careers, according to Stephens College website.

“It’s a new area of excellence and development for us,” Lynch said about the new health sciences programs in development.

In addition to the programs in health sciences, Stephens recently announced that a children's community theater program would join its campus. Theater Reaching Young People and Schools, referred to as TRYPS, will partner with the School of Performing Arts as the TRYPS Institute at Stephens College in April.

Board of Trustees Chairwoman Nikki Krawitz said at Monday's announcement that the gift demonstrates to the world that “Stephens is an investment worth making.”

Fewer than one-third of the nation’s higher education institutions have announced $1 million gifts since 2000, Krawitz said.

Although Stephens is preparing for new ventures, it will stay firmly grounded in its roots as a women’s college, Lynch said.

“We are a women’s college, and a women’s college we will stay,” she said.

According to a news release, the donation will not be treated as "replacement dollars" and "will help shape Stephens College into the next century."

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