Washington University announces $20 million McDonnell Scholarship Challenge

John McDonnell speaks
Life Trustee John F. McDonnell has made a $20 million commitment toward scholarship support as part of the Leading Together campaign. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has announced a $20 million commitment from Life Trustee John F. McDonnell to support scholarships and fellowships as part of Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University. This is one of the largest single scholarship gifts in the history of the university.

The gift establishes the McDonnell Scholarship Challenge, which will match all new or increased gifts for scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate, graduate and professional students at Washington University in St. Louis, up to $20 million.

To qualify for the match, gifts and commitments must be received by the end of the campaign June 30, 2018. Multiyear pledges payable through June 30, 2023, are encouraged and will count toward the campaign total.

“In 2009, a generous challenge by John McDonnell helped to launch Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University, which reached its goal two years ahead of schedule. Now he has stepped forward once again to help us reach our scholarship goal for Leading Together,” Wrighton said. “John McDonnell has been a dedicated leader, tireless advocate and visionary philanthropist on behalf of Washington University for more than 50 years, and we are deeply grateful for this wonderful support. Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to raise half a billion dollars or more to help future generations of students achieve their dream of a Washington University education.”

Increasing resources for scholarships and fellowships is one of the most important priorities of Leading Together. The campaign has raised more than $440 million for scholarship support to date.

“Washington University students all share extraordinary potential to make a difference in the world,” McDonnell said. “They will go on to found and manage organizations, find cures for diseases, fill important government posts in this country and around the world, author the next Pulitzer or Booker Prize-winning novel, and design the next architectural masterpiece. What a loss it would be, and how sad it would be, if we, who could have helped, didn’t.”

About John F. McDonnell

Following a 35-year career with McDonnell Douglas Corp., John McDonnell retired as chairman of the board after overseeing a merger with Boeing Co. to create the world’s largest aerospace company.

McDonnell joined the Washington University Board of Trustees in 1976. He served as chair of the board from 1999 to 2004 and was named a Life Trustee in 1999. He led the leadership phase of the successful $1.55 billion Campaign for Washington University and co-chaired the leadership phase of the current Leading Together campaign, and he currently chairs the campaign executive committee. He served as founding chair of the Arts & Sciences National Council from 1986 to 1991 and remained a member until 2006, when he joined the School of Engineering & Applied Science National Council.

Over the past six decades, gifts from John McDonnell, his family and associated foundations, including the JSM Charitable Trust, have made some of the most significant contributions to advance Washington University’s stature as a world leader in research, education and service to society. These gifts include numerous endowed professorships, scholarships, buildings and academic programs. In 2005, McDonnell provided the leadership gift to establish the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, a global research and education partnership comprising the university and 32 leading institutions around the world.

John McDonnell earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Olin Business School at Washington University, and the university awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 2006. He received the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal in 1999; the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest honor, the “Search” Award, in 2005; and the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2013.

John McDonnell and his wife, Anne, also a graduate of Washington University, are Life Members and Sustaining Charter Members of the Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level in the William Greenleaf Eliot Society. Their daughter Alicia, JD ’95, serves as vice chair for scholarships and fellowships for the Leading Together campaign.