Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Wofford College awarded $4.5 million challenge grant to establish Bonner Scholar Endowment

June 7, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College has been awarded a $4.5 million challenge grant from the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation Inc. to establish a Bonner Scholar Endowment to fund scholarships for financially deserving students. The college must raise an additional $2 million by Aug. 1, 2007, to receive the grant.

The Bonner Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., provides four-year community service scholarships to about 1,600 students annually, through 27 participating colleges and universities. The scholarships are provided to students who have high financial need and a commitment to service, and are designed to heighten the overall education a scholar receives by asking the students to engage in ongoing service work and by helping them to develop the tools and knowledge needed to make that work meaningful and lasting.

Half of Wofford’s matching $2 million will be combined with the foundation grant to create the Bonner Scholar Endowment, from which the scholarships will be funded. The other $1 million will be used to establish the Bonner Operating Endowment, whose income will be used to support activities surrounding the Bonner Scholars Program. The Bonner Foundation will continue to provide annual funding for the Bonner Scholars Program at Wofford until July 30, 2008, at which time all funding for the program will come from the new endowment fund.

Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap, president of Wofford, attended the Bonner Foundation’s board of trustees meeting June 2 and 3, where the announcement of the challenge grant was made. “What is most wonderful about this grant is that it perpetuates the Bonner ideal as a central part of the Wofford College experience,” Dunlap said. “For as long as there’s a Wofford, there will be Bonner Scholars.

“What the Bonner Foundation is all about is making the world a better place, and equipping young men and women to undertake that mission,” he continued. “That is also what Wofford College is all about. It gives us great satisfaction to carry that mission forward.”

Dr. Ronald Robinson, the Perkins-Prothro Chaplain at Wofford, added, “This endowment ensures that Wofford will always have among its student body a significant number of students who will address in an ongoing, accountable and responsible manner the needs of the surrounding community. At the same time those students will have the opportunity to gain a fine education and develop into servant leaders who impact the culture in positive ways. Bonner Scholars help us keep our soul as they model a way of life that shuns the popular notion that mere short-term self interest, however enlightened, is the sole purpose of education.”

Wayne Meisel, president of the Bonner Foundation, said, “The decision to endow the Bonner Scholars program represented a commitment not just to the individual students in the program, but to the campus and community as well. Our goal is to foster and strengthen an ongoing culture of service where everybody, every day encounters the challenge and joy of service.”

In addition to Wofford, the Bonner Foundation awarded a challenge grant to Morehouse College in Atlanta, bringing the total to 14 permanent endowments the foundation has established at select colleges and universities that meet the Bonner endowment standards to further strengthen the Bonner Scholars Program at those institutions. Others include Rhodes College, Guilford College, Berry College, Davidson College, DePauw University, Spelman College and the University of Richmond.

The Bonner Scholars Program began as a pilot project in 1990 at Berea College in Kentucky. Wofford was among 11 institutions that joined the program in 1991. Since then, the Foundation and the 27 colleges and universities participating in the program have continued to elaborate on the service scholarship model.