February 4, 2015
Nearly 65 years after he received his own degree, Wendell Will continues to see to it that the quality of an Albion College education is not just known to students from far and wide, but financially attainable for them as well.
Nine years ago, the longtime California resident and dedicated 1950 alumnus decided to establish the Wendell Will, ’50, Out-of-Great Lakes Endowed Scholarship, aimed at making Albion’s student body more geographically diverse. Recently, Will increased his gift to the endowment, and its principal now stands at more than $1 million. Four students—three from California, one from Florida— received Will Scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year.
“This generous scholarship plays a very important role in our efforts to expand our reach to students residing beyond the Great Lakes region,” said John Hille, interim vice president for enrollment management. “We're increasing our travel to high schools in places like California, Florida, Texas, Colorado, and elsewhere. With the Wendell Will Scholarship, students in areas where we're not as well known are more likely to investigate the advantages of an Albion education.”
Will is as passionate as ever about the importance of obtaining a broad view of the world, and how a liberal arts education can play a vital role in that.
“One of the greatest gifts of real education in this modern world is that there is a lot more to the world than your home state,” said Will, mentioning that a fellow Albion student from India had positively influenced him. “I think that students from California, Colorado, Alabama, they need to learn about other places, and come to Albion. If we can have people from outside of the Great Lakes area attend Albion, that will help in their education as much as any course could.” Sharing classes with students from outside the Midwest, he added, also enriches the education of Albion’s students from Michigan.
Will doesn’t hesitate to mention that he couldn’t have continued at Albion were it not for scholarship assistance. After graduating as a history and political science double major and economics minor, Will earned his law degree with distinction from the University of Michigan. He had a private law practice in the Los Angeles area for more than 30 years, specializing in business and civil litigation, before focusing fully on his successful investments in real estate. In the mid-1980s he revisited academic pursuits, studying international economics at Oxford University and writing at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Will’s deep commitment to his alma mater—the former College trustee’s generosity over the years also includes Stockwell Library’s Wendell B. Will Faculty Room and other gifts—stems from his own Albion experience in the 1940s and the timeless value of the liberal arts.
“The thing I relate with small colleges is the relationship with individual professors,” he said, adding “There’s so much talk in the press—Wall Street Journal, New York Times—about ‘Does it financially pay to have a liberal arts education?’ And I think they miss the point.
“The important thing, in my opinion, about liberal arts education, is it enriches your life,” Will said. “You become a good person, a good citizen, an educated man or woman. That’s what counts.”
For more information on the Wendell Will, ’50, Out-of-Great Lakes Endowed Scholarship, please contact the Student Financial Services Office at 517/629-0440 or .