Adrian College receives a $20M gift by default

Dec 27, 2011

ALPHA MU (Adrian) — To Jeffrey Docking, president of Adrian College, a recent $20 million bequest to the small liberal arts school is “a bit of a game changer.”

“You can’t really quantify what this gift means to Adrian College, because it will literally and figuratively pay dividends for years and years to come,” he said.

The largest gift in the private college’s history comes from the estate of Willard Cornelius, Sr., a former Adrian College trustee who died in 1957.

He left his estate to his granddaughter, Ingrid Cornelius Roberts, with plans for the money to pass to her children and grandchildren.

But Mrs. Roberts, who lived in North Baltimore, Ohio, and died in October, had no children. Adrian College was the “default” beneficiary, Mr. Docking said.

“He loved Adrian College, so when she didn’t have children, the money went to Adrian,” he said.

Officials of the 1,700-student college plan to use income from the trust for student financial aid and to help pay for an addition to, and renovation of, the science building, Peelle Halle, and its business building, Jones Hall.

The college wants to expand and improve its business and science complex because business is its largest major, and interest in physical sciences has been growing.

“A third of our kids indicate either pre-med, pre-veterinary studies, or pre-dentistry, so chemistry and biology are very, very popular right now,” Mr. Docking said.

Mr. Cornelius’ bequest far outweighs the next single largest gift of $3.5 million that the college previously received.

“We’ve really gone from $3.5 million to $20 million overnight … the college president said.

“[This grant] puts us in a place financially where we can do some more creative things, not only with the business and science buildings, but also programmatically. We may be able to start some new academic programs that maybe we’ve been thinking about for a while.”

The Cornelius family’s ties to Adrian College began with James D.H. Cornelius, Adrian 1882, father of William Cornelius, Sr., who was a Greek and Latin professor there from 1881 to 1925.

He started the Alpha Mu chapter of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, which today is in the Cornelius House, a campus landmark that was built with financial help from Willard Cornelius, Jr., and was renovated recently with assistance from Mrs. Roberts.

Willard Cornelius, Sr., was chairman of the board of Parker Rust-Proof Co. in Detroit and served on Adrian College’s board of trustees from 1931 to 1948.

His son Willard Cornelius, Jr., a chairman of the Bank of Lenawee, and Mrs. Roberts also served on the college’s board of trustees over the years.

Mrs. Roberts lived in North Baltimore, in southern Wood County, with her husband, Dr. William Roberts. She was 71 when she died Oct. 15 at Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green.

“I got to know her very early on in my presidency,” said Mr. Docking, president since July, 2005. “She was very, very kind and genuine.”

Full article via the Toledo Blade.


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