Chestertown, MD, May 31, 2001 — Washington College has named the Academic Resource Center in Goldstein Hall in honor of the late Jessie Ball duPont. Consisting of the math center, the writing center and the study skills office, the Jessie Ball duPont Academic Resources Center recognizes Mrs. duPont's philanthropic spirit and support of the College through the generosity of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes grants to 323 eligible institutions identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The Fund has assets of $320 million and has awarded $188 million in grants since 1977.
Since 1983, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund has awarded 18 grants totaling $1.8 million to Washington College for a wide variety of purposes. Among the key initiatives supported by the Fund are the environmental studies program and the new Center for the Environment and Society, internships with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, scholarships for non-traditional students, the development of a behavioral neuroscience concentration, and a joint program with Western Maryland and Goucher colleges to bring visiting African-American scholars to campus. Other grants from the Fund have included support for student/faculty collaborative research in the sciences and planning for the Campaign for Washington's College. The plaque recognizing Mrs. duPont will be on display in Goldstein Hall.
"In so many instances, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund has been a pioneering partner as we have developed new programs at Washington College," said Dr. John S. Toll, president of the College. "Mrs. duPont's vision, as carried out by the trustees of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, has enabled the College to move in bold new directions to enrich our academic program. We are honored that the Fund President Sherry Magill agreed that the College should recognize Mrs. duPont's great contributions with the naming of the Academic Resources Center in Goldstein Hall."
Jessie Dew Ball was born in 1884 into a genteel Virginia family impoverished by the Civil War. Educated in a one-room country school and later at what is now Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia, she helped her father in his law practice. She later taught school in her home county until 1908, when she moved with her parents to San Diego, California. There she became assistant principal in the largest elementary school in the city and contributed to the support of her elderly mother and father.
In 1920, she reestablished an earlier friendship with Alfred I. duPont, whom she had met as a teenager when he came to Virginia on hunting expeditions at the turn of the century. They were married in 1921. Mrs. duPont was not only a devoted wife but also a constant companion and close advisor to her husband in both his business and charitable activities. When he died in 1935, she assumed control of his vast business enterprises in Florida and became the principal trustee of his estate. In his memory she created three foundations: one to build a children's hospital in Delaware; a second to assist needy persons in Florida, Delaware, and Virginia; and a third to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of broadcast journalism.
From the time of her marriage, Mrs. duPont focused her life on charitable and philanthropic work. For four decades she funded hundreds of scholarships for college students, mostly in the southeastern states. Her gifts to colleges and universities augmented faculty salaries and built libraries. Hundreds of churches of all denominations, major charities, children's homes, historic buildings, and art museums benefited from her gifts.
When she died in 1970, her will established the Jessie Ball duPont Religious, Charitable and Educational Fund to continue her philanthropic work. The principles and interests that she pursued during her life still guide the Fund today.
The Jessie Ball duPont Academic Resources Center is housed in Goldstein Hall, the College's newest academic building, named in honor of the late Louis L. Goldstein, Maryland's legendary comptroller and the nation's longest serving elected official. Goldstein Hall was built to meet the needs of the College's growing student population and houses three classrooms, five seminar rooms, two teaching laboratories, a 75-seat lecture hall, and 24 faculty offices, in addition to the Jessie Ball duPont Academic Resources Center