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Mary Lyon Society

Smart Planning Bears Fruit

During their lifetimes, Elizabeth Page Greenawalt ’36 and her husband, Russell, of Rochester, New York, wanted to support Mount Holyoke in an enduring way. They took a creative philanthropic approach, blending their ability to make gifts during their lifetimes with thoughtful estate planning—all of which had significant benefits for both themselves and the College.

Early on, the couple decided to establish the Elizabeth Page Greenawalt Chair in the Physical Sciences, as Elizabeth had been a geology major. They knew that they would not be able to fully fund the chair during their lifetime, so they included a provision in their will which would complete it. Upon Elizabeth’s death in 1999, the funding was fulfilled through a bequest specified in her will.

The chair is currently held by Lilian Hsu, a biochemistry professor. The recipient of multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, Hsu currently is researching the mechanism of transcription initiation, the molecular process that is the first step in gene expression. It is work that has implications for understanding the normal expression level of any gene/protein and how this level, when altered by gene mutations, can lead to diseases. “I feel greatly honored by this professorship endowed by the Greenawalts. Their strong belief and support for science education for women has been a sustaining factor in my teaching and research with students,” said Hsu, who has held the Greenawalt chair since 2000.

The Greenawalts didn’t stop there—they did yet more creative gift planning. “Elizabeth also established—via bequest—a charitable remainder unitrust providing her husband with income throughout his life. Russ died this past March, and now all the trust proceeds have come to us as an unrestricted gift,” said Charles Haight, vice president for development. “This type of gift makes a real difference to Mount Holyoke, especially in this economy. The trustees can put that support to use where it is most needed.”

The Greenawalts went even one step further: upon Russ’s death, his will specified a bequest to Mount Holyoke to establish the Russ F. and Elizabeth Page Greenawalt Scholarship in honor of his wife and their 55 years of marriage. As almost 70 percent of students attending Mount Holyoke receive some level of financial aid, this scholarship support is critical to providing access for students who otherwise could not afford this education of excellence.

All of this—a professorship, a scholarship, and an unrestricted gift—was done through the couple’s thoughtful and creative philanthropic approach. “Elizabeth and Russ knew that their gifts would have a powerful impact,” said Haight. “They wanted to make a difference in the lives of Mount Holyoke students and they were able to put their assets to work for them during their lifetime, and then for Mount Holyoke afterwards. We are deeply indebted to them.”

For information on leaving a bequest to Mount Holyoke or on various gift planning options, contact the Office of Gift Planning at 800-MHC-GIVE.


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International diversity at MHC is exceptional, among the students as well as the faculty. The College is a co-founder of Women’s Education Worldwide (WEW), a network of women’s colleges around the world. WEW and the College’s strategic partnerships with universities abroad offer powerful opportunities for global connections.

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