William A. Longbrake ’65

William A. Longbrake ’65 


William A. Longbrake ’65 gives $15 million to The College of Wooster

Board chair invests in new science center and APEX

28 May, 2015 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio  – William A. Longbrake ’65, chair of The College of Wooster’s board of trustees, today announced gifts to the college totaling $15 million. Five million dollars will go toward construction of a new integrated life sciences center; $5 million to APEX, the college’s center for student academic and career advising, planning and experiential learning; and a total of $5 million to other purposes, including the college’s annual fund and his fiftieth class reunion fund. 

“Once again, Bill Longbrake is demonstrating leadership as board chair by stretching to make this magnificent commitment to Wooster’s institutional priorities,” said Grant Cornwell, the college’s president. “By so doing, he is helping to move the college forward in a significant way on several fronts.  It has been a blessing and an honor to work with Bill during my time here.  He has been a mentor and a friend and I am inspired by his leadership.”

With $40 million in commitments in hand, the construction fund raising phase of the life sciences project is now complete. The college continues to seek financial support for the innovative, interdisciplinary educational programming that will take place in the new facility, including new endowed professorships and research funds in the life sciences. Groundbreaking is planned for June 2016 and the new facility will open in September 2018.

The $5 million gift for APEX has two components: $3 million will endow the director’s position and $2 million will support new initiatives and program growth. APEX allows Wooster students to integrate their intellectual and professional aspirations, and create linkages between their academic work and the work they hope to do after graduation. Since its launch in 2012, APEX has grown rapidly, attracted significant support from alumni, and become a model for programs at other colleges and universities.

“Wooster transformed my life and kindled in me a lifelong passion for learning,” Longbrake said. “I feel privileged to have a significant leadership role at Wooster today and to be able to contribute to achieving Wooster’s promise to transform every student through their Wooster experience for a lifetime of learning and service to humankind.”

Longbrake, the retired vice chairman of Washington Mutual, has been a member of Wooster’s board of trustees for 27 years, and chair since 2014. He and his late wife, Martha, endowed the Longbrake Scholarship in 1990, and funded construction of the Longbrake Student Wellness Center, which opened in 2002.

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.