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Westminster College gets biggest gift ever: $7 million

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

An alumna from Latrobe bequeathed $7 million to Westminster College, the largest gift in the college's history, which will endow a scholarship for students pursuing the sciences.

The 160-year-old liberal arts college based in New Wilmington, Lawrence County, announced on Wednesday the gift from Helen Louise Lemmon, which will endow the Lemmon Family Scholarship.

The gift was “a complete surprise,” said Mark Meighen, senior director of marketing and communication services at Westminster.

“Their family really had a respect for higher education and an understanding of philanthropy,” Meighen said “ ... This gift is a great legacy to the Lemmon family.”

The scholarship will help future Westminster students, many of whom will be residents of the region, he said. The Lemmon Family Scholarship is restricted for use in the sciences.

Helen Louise Lemmon, who died in 2011, was one of three daughters of George Steele Lemmon, a chemist with Teledyne Vasco Co. in Latrobe, and June Saxman Lemmon, an accomplished artist.

In 1938 Lemmon began two years of study at Westminster with a major in secretarial science. She worked as secretary to the president of Allegheny Steel and retired in 1962.

Westminster was named by Forbes.com as the best college in the nation for women in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, and Westminster graduates are accepted into medical school at double the national average, according to a college news release.

The sciences, especially biology-related fields, are Westminster's fastest-growing majors, according to the college.

“This is a transformational gift that will significantly elevate Westminster's ability to attract top student scholars,” Westminster College President Richard Dorman said in a news release. “A national goal is to increase America's competitiveness in the sciences globally, and this new scholarship program will enhance Westminster's role in achieving that goal.”

The gift is part of “Ever Higher,” a college fundraising campaign that's raised $37.4 million toward its $50 million goal.

The previous largest gift to Westminster was $3 million in 2003 from Andrew McKelvey to help build the Andrew J. McKelvey Campus Center.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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