4 colleges to split Hodson Trust gift

Johns Hopkins, Washington College, St. John's and Hood to share $18 million

December 01, 2006|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,Sun Reporter

Four Maryland private colleges will split a record $18 million this year from the Hodson Trust, a charitable investment fund that has been making annual gifts to the schools for decades.

The Johns Hopkins University, Washington College in Chestertown, St. John's College in Annapolis and Hood College in Frederick will each receive $4.5 million toward academic scholarships, research, construction and other projects, the trust announced yesterday.

Hopkins is a fundraising giant in the middle of a $3.2 billion capital campaign, but for the smaller liberal arts colleges the gifts are often the largest they receive every year.

"We were absolutely flabbergasted" at the size of the 2006 award, said Washington College President Baird Tipson, who said the bulk of the money will establish an academic center on the Kent County campus.

Combined with a $1 million gift from a related scholarship foundation, Hodson gifts will probably account for half of the college's fundraising this year, Tipson said.

This year's Hodson Trust gift is the largest ever awarded by the charitable trust, which was set up in 1920 by the family of small-loan pioneer Clarence Hodson, and which first gave $40,000 to Washington and Hood colleges in 1936. Annual awards began in the 1950s.

"For Hood, it's the largest philanthropic gift that this college has received in our 113-year history," said President Ronald J. Volpe, who said the fund's trustees attributed the record payout to strong market returns on the trust's investments.

St. John's College officials said they will use part of the money to endow a scholarship that will enable about 15 primary and secondary school teachers to attend the college's summer graduate program every year.

Hopkins will use its portion to underwrite publication of the collected prose of T.S. Eliot and establish a center for cancer research.

"The grant also will provide continued support for Hodson Scholarships and Hodson-Gilliam Success Scholarships, which benefit undergraduate students," said President William R. Brody in a statement.

The Hodson Trust has awarded $184 million to the four schools since it was established.

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