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Bennington Receives $10 Million Gift from Alumna

Dec 16, 2011

Laura-Lee Whittier Woods ’48 honors former faculty member Peter Drucker with a $10 million gift to Bennington in his name.

Bennington College has received a remarkable gift from alumna Laura-Lee Whittier Woods ’48, made possible by the L.K. Whittier Foundation, to continue the foundation’s leadership support of the Peter Drucker Fund for Excellence and Innovation over the next five years. Drucker, who died in 2005, was Whittier Woods’s teacher at Bennington and considered by many to be the father of modern management. He embodied the principles that this fund honors.

Established in 1999 to honor Drucker, who taught at the College from 1942 until 1948, the Drucker Fund has played a vital role in supporting the College’s extraordinary progress in a number of priority areas. It has enabled the development of Bennington’s new public action initiative, which aims to address the most pressing issues of our time. At the same time, it has allowed Bennington to sustain its deeply held commitments to the arts and to outstanding faculty while supporting key academic resources and facilities. The Drucker Fund’s support has made it possible to enrich and enhance the values of excellence and innovation in every part of the Bennington experience.

The Drucker Fund has also helped to fuel a sustained period of growth for Bennington College: The student body, at 822 (686 undergraduate, 136 graduate), is the largest in decades; in 2007, Bennington’s 75th anniversary, the College exceeded a $75 million campaign goal, raising $92 million; and significant capital projects in the past five years have included extensive renovations to academic buildings, a new student center, and the Center for the Advancement of Public Action, designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, which formally opened earlier this month.

“Laura-Lee’s extraordinary generosity has played a vital and transformative role in Bennington’s recent history and, for that, we could not be more grateful,” said President Elizabeth Coleman. “The College has resumed, if not exceeded, the place in the vanguard of undergraduate education that it held while Peter Drucker taught here, both through its capacity for inspired innovation, and its unequivocal commitment to intellectual rigor, imaginative range, and ethical intensity. The Drucker Fund has given Bennington an extraordinary opportunity to extend and expand this.”

Over the next five years, the Drucker Fund will continue to develop the College’s ability to attract and retain the most accomplished faculty, including a new cadre of faculty capable of developing the capacity of students to be active participants, rather than passive spectators, of democracy. In addition, the Fund will continue to invest in strengthening core fundamentals of the College—sustaining the excellence of the faculty; investing in the library and academic facilities; and improving technological resources.