Record Bequest and Financial Aid Campaign

January 21, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

With gratitude and hope I am happy to share with you two major announcements that are sure to have a lasting effect on the College and our students. I am sharing this exciting news with you in advance of an announcement to our alumni later this evening 

During her life, the late Agnes Williams W41, P83, former member of the Board of Trustees, made multiple transformational gifts to the College, always in passionate support of student success and faculty excellence. As her final legacy to the college she loved, she bequeathed $23.5 million from her estate – the largest estate gift in the history of the College.

Agnes’ husband, the late Edward Bennett Williams ’41, P83, H63, was the only child of a department store floorwalker in Hartford, Conn. When his father was laid off during the Great Depression, the vice principal of his high school helped him to secure a scholarship at Holy Cross, a school he would not have been able to attend without the support of financial aid. Edward went on to become a distinguished Washington, D.C. trial attorney, and maintained a deep connection with Holy Cross throughout his life. Now, most fittingly, Mrs. Williams’ estate gift will be used to inspire fundraising for financial aid with the full support of her family.

“My mother believed in the transformative nature of higher education and how it can change the trajectory of one’s life,” Ned Williams ’83 shared with us. “She really believed in the Jesuit methodology of delivering higher education, and that a good college education was the greatest gift that one could give a child. Ultimately, financial aid is one of the most powerful and long-lasting gifts because the hope is that these students will change the world, and change, in some way, Holy Cross’ future, just as when Holy Cross took a chance on my dad. Who knew that somehow the chance the College took on him 84 years ago would have an effect today?”

Agnes’ gift will truly have a lasting impact on the College and our future students, because these funds will be used to support our new Hope + Access Campaign for Financial Aid – an 18-month campaign we are launching tonight. 

Building on the success of our historic, record-breaking Become More campaign which concluded last June, the Hope + Access campaign aims to ensure that all admitted students have the opportunity to attend Holy Cross and experience our life-changing education regardless of financial need. Agnes Williams’ bequest will be used to match all new and increased gifts to the College in support of financial aid. These matching funds will also support gifts to new or existing endowed scholarship funds. Together with engagement from alumni, parents and friends, this monumental gift will help us reach our goal of raising $40 million for financial aid. Volunteer co-chairs John Mullman ’82, P07, Maura Doherty ’86, Kathleen Maggi ’91, Melisa Alves ’06 and Gary Acquah ’14 will help lead the campaign, which will run from January 2021 to June 2022.

This campaign will enable Holy Cross to increase our funding for financial aid at this moment when the pandemic and economic instability have created a climate of uncertainty and financial stress for current and future members of our College community. We believe that a Holy Cross education should not entail insurmountable economic challenge and debt. Consequently, we want to ensure that every qualified student who has the opportunity to come to Mount St. James is able to do so. 

Clearly, the significant challenges and upheaval of the past year also have reinforced the value of the formative education we offer at Holy Cross. The work each of you do every day is essential to providing that education. You embody our institutional commitment to rigorous academics, faith-based values and ethics, and service to promote justice and the common good. And that, in turn, translates into a community of dedicated graduates who are making a disproportionate difference in our world. Accordingly, providing the next generation of creative and worthy students with greater access to a Holy Cross education is paramount for the future of our democracy and is our principal philanthropic priority today.

The Hope + Access campaign will enable us to stabilize our endowed financial aid scholarship dollars and grow our immediate-use financial aid funds. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Hope + Access campaign website.

As always, I am deeply grateful for your support of our students. Your health and safety, and that of your families, remain in my prayers, and I hope you will also keep the College in your prayers as we look with hope upon this upcoming semester and this new campaign. 


Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.