Ruth and Morris Williams

Ruth and Morris Williams


Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. give $15 million to support sciences at Wooster

Largest gift in college's history will help build new, integrated science facility, endow new professorship and scholarships

October 5, 2013 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio, Oct. 5, 2013 – The College of Wooster today announced the largest single gift in the institution’s nearly 150-year history, a total of $15 million from Ruth Whitmore Williams and A. Morris Williams Jr. to support science education. Ten million dollars will help fund construction of a new, integrated science facility, $3 million will endow new scholarships for science majors, and $2 million will endow the Whitmore-Williams Professorship in computational biology or bioinformatics.

“This is a visionary gift,” said Wooster President Grant H. Cornwell, “that will provide a powerful motivation for other donors.  I am inspired by the commitment Ruth and Morris have to Wooster, demonstrated both by their generosity and by Ruth’s active engagement as a trustee.  Ruth has high expectations for Wooster and would have us aspire to excellence in every aspect of our mission. Because this science project is a strategic priority for the College, it is a priority for Ruth.”

“Science plays a critical role in so many aspects of life today, and Wooster’s strength in the sciences is deep and long-standing,” Ruth Williams said. “Putting those two things together, Morris and I felt this was the perfect way to do something significant for Wooster, for society, and most importantly, for the students who will take their Wooster education out into the world to make a difference.”

The college is in the early planning phase for a major overhaul and expansion of its life sciences facilities, which will involve a combination of new construction, renovation, and connecting those new and renovated facilities in an integrated science complex. With the announcement of the Williams’ gift, Wooster’s board today voted to authorize the administration to proceed with the next phase of planning: selecting an architect to take the conceptual work done thus far and develop a fully detailed plan for the new facility.

Computational biology has emerged as an important subfield of the life sciences, in which researchers use analytical methods to interpret the large data sets necessary for tasks such as sequencing the human genome or simulating functioning biological systems. Adding a faculty member in this area will better prepare Wooster graduates in the life sciences to enter a world in which the ability to analyze large data sets is expected.

Ruth Whitmore Williams attended The College of Wooster from 1958 to 1961, and has been a member of the college’s board of trustees since 1994. She and her husband, Morris, have been strong and consistent supporters of the college, and their philanthropy has touched many areas of campus life, from the Williams Fitness Center in the Scot Center, the college’s new athletic and recreational facility, which opened in 2012, to the Whitmore-Williams Professorship in Psychology, endowed in 1998, and the Whitmore-Williams Scholarship Fund, established in 1978.

The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Wooster offers an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, culminating in a rigorous senior project, in which each student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to conceive, organize and complete a significant research project on a topic of the student’s own choosing. Through this distinctive program, every Wooster student develops abilities valued by employers and graduate schools alike: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.