Western Reserve University

  • Education
  • 1826

Western Reserve University, which sprang up in 1826 in a just-burgeoning section of Ohio, survived only through the sacrificial giving of frontier settlers. Western Reserve was not supported by a generous benefactor, as would become increasingly common in education philanthropy as the nineteenth century wore on. Rather, it was a broad base of farmers who committed their small contributions and, more often, their services to the fledgling educator. In one case a local man spent a whole winter hauling building materials to the school from a quarry that was ten miles away; in another, a farming family pledged an annual gift from the proceeds of their milk and egg sales, which they gave every year for a decade. This college built on grassroots philanthropy lives on today in its merged heir, Case Western Reserve University, a top independent research university located in Cleveland.

  • Merle Nash & Roderick Curti, Philanthropy in the Shaping of American Higher Education (Rutgers University Press, 1965)
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