Press Release

‘A Momentous Day’

May 17, 2019 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan Announces $23.56 Million in Gifts, Including Largest Single Contribution in University History

Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones and the Battling Bishop announce the receipt of a $10-million gift from an anonymous alumni couple, the largest single outright contribution in university history. The gift is part of OWU’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign. (Video by Mark Schmitter ’12)

DELAWARE, OHIO – Ohio Wesleyan University today announced the receipt of $23.56 million in gifts and pledges to support its Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign.

The contributions include $10 million from an anonymous alumni couple – the largest single outright gift in the university’s 177-year history. The anonymous gift will support plans to renew the residential campus, including the construction of new senior student apartments, and plans to renovate and restore Slocum Hall, a 121-year-old campus landmark. Prior to today, the largest single gifts in Ohio Wesleyan history were two contributions of $8 million each, given in 2013 and 2014.

“This is a momentous day for Ohio Wesleyan,” said President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “The generosity shown by this couple, indeed by all of our donors, demonstrates their strong belief in the value of an OWU liberal arts education and in our mission to educate future generations of moral leaders for the global society. I am humbled and grateful for this outpouring of support.”

The couple said they are pleased to give back to a university that gave them so much during their time as students.

“Our Ohio Wesleyan experiences were pivotal in our lives,” they shared in a statement, “and we are pleased to support the university’s ongoing efforts to provide a campus living and learning experience that is second-to-none. We can’t wait to see the beautifully restored Slocum Hall and transformed residential campus. We hope others whose lives have been positively impacted by Ohio Wesleyan will join us in supporting the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign.”

In addition to the anonymous $10-million donation, other gifts and pledges contributing to today’s $23.56-million announcement include:

  • $5 million from Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees Chair John F. Milligan and Kathryn Bradford Milligan, both members of the OWU Class of 1983. The Hillsborough, California, couple are co-chairs of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow fundraising campaign. Their gift will support plans to renew Ohio Wesleyan’s residential campus.
  • $4.2 million from Trustee Katherine Boles Smith ’71 and Alton Smith of Maple City, Michigan, to support residential renewal, faculty development, and other university priorities.
  • $2.2 million from Trustee Kara J. Trott, Class of 1983, of Columbus, Ohio, to support residential renewal.
Ohio Wesleyan will build senior student apartments as part of a residential renewal plan. (Rendering by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting)

Ohio Wesleyan’s $60-million residential renewal initiative includes three phases of plans now under development to build new senior student apartments, renovate Smith Hall to create a first-year student village, revitalize fraternity and adjacent theme houses, and improve Welch Hall and Hayes Hall.

In addition, the university is planning an $11-million project to renovate Slocum Hall, including the restoration of its iconic Reading Room and its 70-foot-by-20-foot leaded glass ceiling. Slocum Hall is one of 10 locations on campus included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Trustees Chair John Milligan said he is pleased to see the $200-million Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign – the largest single fundraising initiative in Ohio Wesleyan’s history – excite so many alumni, parents, and friends. With today’s announcement, the campaign has raised a total of $196 million.

“Over the past five years, Kathie and I have been thrilled to see our fellow alumni respond so enthusiastically to the priorities of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign,” said Milligan, whose family has contributed a combined $10 million to the seven-year effort.

“As we are very close to achieving our initial campaign goal,” Milligan said, “we hope to take the momentum of this tremendous vote of confidence in our alma mater and spend the next two years focusing on continued fundraising for our strategic priorities: student scholarships, faculty development and support, residential and campus renewal, and, of course, our signature program, The OWU Connection.”

The OWU Connection is Ohio Wesleyan’s unique approach to student learning – linking academic theory with real-world practice; crossing academic department boundaries to support deeper, interconnected learning; and preparing students for global citizenship and leadership. Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign and giving to the university at www.owu.edu/campaign.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.