Wilmington College Receives Exceptional $13.5 Million Estate Gift 

May 19, 2020

Wilmington College’s largest gift ever received in the 150-year history of the landmark institution will accelerate the ongoing renaissance WC has enjoyed in recent years as a result of enrollment records, new academic programs, major gifts, fiscal stability, and new and renovated facilities.

PICTURED: Wilmington College benefactors Andrew and Catherine Withrow are pictured in 2008.

With the disbursement pending, the College expects to receive $13.5 million from the estate of Catherine (Cathy) Withrow, widow of 1958 alumnus Andrew (Andy) Withrow. They join a fellowship of key supporters who continue to demonstrate their confidence in Wilmington College. The College accepts their gift as a reflection of the couple’s belief in its ongoing commitment to excellence as a Quaker-affiliated institution of higher education that is preparing the leaders of tomorrow, according to President Jim Reynolds.

The Withrows, of Cincinnati, have a long history of supporting Andy’s alma mater. Starting in the 1960’s, almost immediately after Andy graduated, they contributed $20 annually to the College phonathon. Their legacy of giving continued through the decades and increased as their means allowed. In 2008, theirs was the first $1 million, non-estate gift, received by WC. It provided seed funding for the construction of the Center for the Sciences and Agriculture (CSA), the College’s largest academic building, which opened in 2016.

In accordance with the impact of their estate gift, the Board of Trustees has chosen to rename the CSA building to The Withrow Center for Agricultural, Life and Physical Sciences. A dedication ceremony will be announced in due time, welcoming back to campus the Withrows’ core group of WC friends.

Reynolds expressed his great appreciation for what he described as a “momentous gift.” Their “investment in the future of the College will enable us to move forward with important elements of our Campus Master Plan now.” According to the wishes of the Withrows, the gift is restricted to capital projects and scholarships. A considerable amount has been earmarked for the renovation of campus residence halls, to ensure they meet the needs of the students of today and tomorrow.

“This wonderful couple loved Wilmington College,” Reynolds said. “Andy and Cathy saw Wilmington College as an institution that continues to play a vital and distinct role in the region’s educational landscape,” he added. “They were impressed with the momentum of the College in the 21st century and wished to have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the school and its students. This considerable gift will reshape much of the housing infrastructure and make the College an even more appealing living and learning community for our students.”

“This is an exhilarating time at Wilmington College” Reynolds added, noting that the 150-year-old institution is well placed to weather the storms of today and tomorrow.

He stressed that Wilmington College continues to be successful and adaptive in the ever-evolving higher education landscape. With strong academic programs, WC stands out in a crowded marketplace offering students a holistic approach to education. Critical-thinking, decision-making, leadership, and collaboration are not just buzzwords but part of the transformative education that students experience at WC.

Wilmington College ranks in the top quarter of colleges in the 12-state Midwest Region, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 “Best Colleges” issue. Wilmington delivers a world-class education to students, while remaining one of the most affordable private schools in the region.

In the past 10 years, the College has enrolled two of the largest freshman classes in its history, constructed two major buildings, strengthened its financial situation, all while continuing to offer rigorous academic programs, he said. It is widely respected for its comprehensive agriculture program, one of only three in Ohio and the only one housed at an independent institution. Its athletic training program, one of the largest and oldest in the state, recently transitioned to a master’s level program. A new master’s level occupational therapy program is set to launch within the next 18 months.

Reynolds believes that this period of renaissance was seen by the Withrows, which further endeared the preeminent school to them and other major donors. “We believe that this significant gift will encourage alumni and friends to continue, and even increase their donations, advancing the great work of the College.”

The Withrows began their support of WC right after graduation and became even closer to the College later in life. The institution recognized Andy for his career, service, and philanthropy with an honorary doctorate at the 2007 Commencement ceremonies. Little did anyone know that would be Andy’s last visit to his beloved campus, as he passed away unexpectedly in September of 2009. As a token of Andy’s lifelong connection to WC, his widow, Cathy, presented the College with his framed doctoral hood. This artifact has been displayed ever since in the President’s Office as a reminder that a graduate’s connection with the College does not end after Commencement but continues for life and beyond.

In the 10 years after her husband’s passing, Cathy continued to be impressed with the College’s strategic direction. She maintained a close affiliation with the College and the many alumni friends the couple so greatly valued.  Cathy joined her husband in death March of 2019.

Andy hearkened back to both his grandfathers as instilling in him the value of giving back. Indeed, his paternal grandfather, Cincinnati surgeon Dr. John Withrow, is the namesake for the city’s Withrow High School. “My wife and I have been blessed to have the ability to share in similar ways. Giving to focused areas in our life has been our main goal,” Andy said. “Cathy and I, many years ago, felt if we were in the position to give to a project, Wilmington College was high on our list.”

Peggy Sturdivant (Class of ‘82), Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, also expressed the College’s excitement resulting from the couple’s “magnanimous gesture” of support.  “The impact of the Withrows’ gift will be felt for decades at the College,” she said, noting that the Trustees identified residence hall renovation as of “paramount importance as the institution continues towards a future of excellence, and a key part of the Campus Master Plan.”

“Andy greatly valued his Wilmington College experience and how it affected his life in a multitude of positive ways, including so many lifelong friendships. Cathy obviously admired greatly how much the College meant to him — and ultimately appreciated how much it meant to her.”

“Wilmington College is forever grateful to the Withrows,” Sturdivant concluded, “With a student-centered educational experience, Wilmington has served its students well for 150 years and is poised to continue to transform lives into the next 150 years.”


Wilmington College is an independent college in Wilmington, Ohio, founded in 1870 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). The mission is to educate, inspire, and prepare each student for a life of service and success.  WC hosts 1,100 students at its main campus, hailing from 23 states and 8 countries. The College has another 100+ students at a satellite location in Cincinnati. Wilmington College is dedicated to providing students with a holistic education that focuses on ‘Hands-on-Learning, Hands-on-Living,’ enabling students to find their place in the world and launch them on a journey of purpose. WC students compete in 19 NCAA D-III varsity sports and participate in more than 50 student organizations.