A graduate of Chatham Hall gave a $31 million gift to the school, reported to be the largest gift ever to a girls' school. Chatham Hall is an Episcopal boarding school for girls in Chatham, Virginia in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.
Chatham Hall, an internationally renowned girls' boarding school affiliated with the Episcopal Church, has received a $31 million gift from the estate of alumna Elizabeth Beckwith Nilsen, Class of 1931. This is the largest single gift to any girls' independent school.
According to Gary Fountain, rector and head of Chatham Hall, "Mrs Nilsen's gift is transformational for the school. What remarkable generosity, and what a powerful statement about women supporting girls' education. Mrs Nilsen's generosity is a head of school's dream."
Nilsen directed that her gift be placed into an unrestricted endowment fund. Her gift came to Chatham Hall following the death of Nilsen's husband, Robert A. Nilsen, in March 2009. Nilsen, who predeceased her husband, died in October 2006.
"My fellow board members and I are humbled by Mrs Nilsen's generosity. Given these challenging economic times, when all schools are guarding their bottom line and cautiously planning for the future, this gift comes to Chatham Hall, as it would to any school, as a miracle, and also as an affirmation of the work we do every day educating girls," said Dora Thomas, chair of the Chatham Hall board of trustees. "Through judicious planning, we will honor Mrs Nilsen in a way that acknowledges how she has honored us by expanding the basis for a secure and dynamic future for Chatham Hall."