Holyoke Community College Receives Pledge of Historic $10 Million Gift

Holyoke Community College (HCC) received a pledge of more than $10 million, the largest single gift commitment in the college’s 77-year history and one of the largest gifts ever to any community college.

The pledged gift is included in the estate plan of HCC alumna Margaret (Peg) Wendlandt ’58 and her husband, Gary Wendlandt, longtime supporters and frequent donors to the college. The money, estimated to be at least $10 million, will go toward student scholarships and the college’s greatest needs.

“Education has made a great deal of difference in our lives, and how we have succeeded over the years,” Peg Wendlandt said a few years ago. “Gary and I both received scholarships to assist us in achieving our goals of education and feel fortunate that we can help others do the same.”

The Wendlandts’ many gifts to the college in their lifetime already total more than $1 million and include donations to the President’s Student Emergency Fund and two endowed scholarships administered by the HCC Foundation: the Peg ’58 and Gary Wendlandt Scholarship, for students with financial need; and the Peg ’58 and Gary Wendlandt Health Scholarship, for students in nursing or health-related fields.

In each of the past two years alone, the Wendlandts have made matching gift donations of $100,000 during the HCC Foundation’s one-day “Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives” fundraising campaign. This year, the Wendlandts have again pledged to match up to $100,000 in gifts from new donors and alumni for this year’s campaign on Tuesday, April 25.

“News of the Wendlandt’s historic pledge comes at a time of leadership transition at HCC, and so their gift takes on even greater significance,” said Robert Gilbert, chair of the HCC board of trustees. “On one hand, their commitment celebrates the relationship they have developed with President Royal over the last six and a half years, and on the other, they are demonstrating their commitment to HCC’s mission and vision with a gift that will impact future generations.”

Over the years, HCC has been the beneficiary of two $1 million donations, one from HCC alumnus and Yankee Candle Company founder Michael Kittredge in 2003 and another from the estate of HCC alumna, professor emeritus, and textbook author Elaine Marieb, as well as a $7.5 million donation in 2020 from the Marieb Foundation, which was then the single largest donation ever to a community college in Massachusetts.

The $10 million-plus gift from the Wendlandts will be among the largest so far to any community college in the U.S., rivaling a $15 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to Amarillo College in Texas in 2021 and a $10 million gift to Arapahoe Community College in Colorado from the Sturm Family Foundation in 2019.

“Community colleges serve roughly 45% of all undergraduates in the United States and are deserving of our support,” Gilbert said. “We are expanding access to higher education and preparing students for the workforce, and we intend to do that for decades to come. Peg and Gary’s estate commitment enables us to advance HCC’s mission well beyond any of our lifetimes.”