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Wilson College officials learn of major gift for library renovation

March 04, 2013
  • A gift of as much as $3.6 million from Marguerite Lenfest of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., will help pay for renovations to the John Stewart Memorial Library.
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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The renovation of the John Stewart Memorial Library at Wilson College has received a boost, thanks to a gift of as much as $3.6 million from Marguerite Lenfest of Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick announced the gift with its matching elements at a meeting of the college’s board of trustees in late February.

“This gift is significant because libraries are the heart of a college and representative of quality academics,” Mistick said. “We are excited about the plans for a progressive, modern library with a learning commons that will become the center of our academic community.”

The college has embarked on a $12 million fundraising effort to repair and restore the original 1923 library building, while razing a 1961 addition and replacing it with a learning commons equipped to meet the changing needs of today’s educators and students. Before the Lenfest gift, Wilson had raised $2.4 million for the project.

“I am excited about the transformation recently put in motion at Wilson College,” said Lenfest, a 1955 graduate of Wilson.

“I am proud to be able to demonstrate my support and to help address the college’s most urgent need,” she said. “It is my hope that this gift shows the strength of my commitment to Wilson today and inspires others to support the library project, which is essential to the academic core of the college and of great importance to both current and prospective students.”

Originally founded as a women’s college in 1869, Wilson College is taking a number of bold steps to transform itself into a thriving liberal arts institution, including adding programs, improving infrastructure and expanding coeducation. An updated library will be an important component of Wilson’s revitalization.

Marguerite and her husband, Gerry, are longtime supporters of Wilson College. During Wilson’s “Leading with Confidence” capital campaign, they pledged a total of $20 million toward the college’s endowment.

Over the years, the Lenfests have supported Wilson’s annual fund and contributed to the college’s unrestricted endowment, student scholarships, faculty development, the Women with Children program and facilities renovations. Through their generosity, Lenfest Commons was created as a student gathering and study space at the center of campus.

Marguerite Lenfest served as a member of the Wilson board of trustees for many years. She chaired the trustee committee on academic affairs and was awarded an honorary degree in 2006.

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