Johnson State College receives first $1 million gift
Johnson State College (JSC) has received its first $1 million gift, in the form of an irrevocable bequest gift, which will be divided between two endowments at the college: the JSC Library Endowment and the Julia V. and Ervin L Willey Scholarship Endowment.
The gift is from longtime donors Richard E. Willey, JSC class of 1971, and his wife, Rosalind S. Weiss, of Harrisburg, Pa.
In recognition of this contribution, JSC will name its library and learning center the Willey Library & Learning Center at a dedication ceremony on Monday, Sept. 12, at 4:30 p.m.
“This legacy gift from alumnus Dick Willey and Roz Weiss represents both great generosity and confidence in the future of Johnson State College,” said JSC President Barbara E. Murphy. “The entire JSC community — our students, faculty and staff along with the neighboring community — will benefit from their gift to our library and learning center, and more students will realize their hopes of a degree from JSC thanks to the greater number of scholarships this gift will make possible.”
She added that the gift “comes from an alumnus who knows what it means to step into college from a loving family of modest means, to be first in family to do so, and to begin the journey to a wider and fuller world through the riches of a college education.”
In establishing the Julia V. and Ervin L Willey Scholarship Endowment in honor of his parents 15 years ago, Mr. Willey noted that they were born into an early 1900s farming community in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. “Being from families of modest means, they were not privileged to have been able to finish high school, let alone to have the opportunity to pursue higher education,” he wrote. “As a result, they worked hard and sacrificed to make available to their children educational opportunities that had not been available to them. This endowment continues that spirit of hard work and sacrifice on behalf of future generations.”
Richard Willey earned his undergraduate degree in history, political science and economics from JSC and a master’s degree in public administration from Penn State University. He worked on budget policy in Pennsylvania in the office of the governor and for the general assembly before working for the law firm of Stevens and Lee, where he represented clients ranging from universities and electric companies to multinational corporations. He retired in 2007 as president and CEO of American Education Services and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (AES/PHEAA). Other achievements include chairing the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and the Susquehanna Valley chapter of the American Red Cross, and serving on the boards of the Whitaker Center for the Arts and Sciences (Harrisburg), the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and the Capitol Region Economic Development Corporation.
Mr. Willey received the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from JSC in 2000. At the time he wrote, "I owe everything that I have been able to do to the solid educational foundation that I received at Johnson State. The quality of the faculty and the intimacy of size gave me the confidence to know I could compete with people who come from the so-called ‘best schools’ in the country."
The Willey Library & Learning Center will be dedicated at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12, at Johnson State College.