Austin College announced a major gift from a long-time supporter of the school Tuesday.


The college plans to use the gift of nearly $13 million from the estate of William Windsor Richardson of Sherman to provide endowment funds for four new faculty chairs and their related programs at Austin College.


Richardson died in 2017, and his estate was recently settled allowing the college to receive more than $12.8 million. Faculty members were installed in the chairs this spring.


“This generous gift, among the largest in Austin College history, ensures the continuation of important new programs that span the breadth and depth of our academic program,” said President Steven P. O’Day in a news release issued by the school. “From the sciences and social sciences, to the humanities, languages, and the arts, each endowed program provides a link to a broad-based personalized education that is rooted in the liberal arts and reinforced through real-world experiences.”


William W. "Bill" Richardson was a member of the Austin College Class of 1964. His grandfather, W.C. Windsor, and mother, Gertrude Windsor Richardson, served on the board of trustees. His grandfather was chair in the 1950s during the Guerrant and Moseley presidencies.


This gift is not the first one from the Windsor and Richardson families. They have been memorialized through numerous scholarships, awards, and lectures at the college, including the Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Windsor Presidential Scholarship and the Will Mann Richardson Lectureships and Seminars in the Social Sciences.


The family built Windsor House at the corner of Grand and College Streets in 1961 as a gift to AC in memory of the former board chair. The house served as the home of the dean for more than 20 years, and now is home to the vice president for student affairs.


Windsor Mall, one of the most notable of the family’s gifts to the school, was dedicated in 1975 and was created for the 125th anniversary celebration of the college. Windsor Mall connects the Trustee Court and Kappa Fountain to Jonsson Fountains and plaza on the west end of campus.


Bill Richardson worked for the college for 15 years in various positions, finally as assistant to the vice president of financial affairs.


Then, he went into a business consultancy with Austin College President John D. Moseley that continued until the president’s retirement in 1981.


And he did not wait until his death to start adding to the scholarships and lectures at the college. He also supported the additions to immediate-use scholarships and the Robert J. and Mary Wright Campus Center. In addition, he supported the college green honoring John D. and Sara Bernice Moseley and Distinguished Faculty, and a Sara Bernice Moseley Endowed Scholarship.


The Estate Gift


The release from AC said the four new Richardson endowed faculty chairs support associated Austin College programs that have extended the boundaries of learning across the humanities, sciences and social sciences.


“The recently developed programs are designed to guide students in identifying connections across disciplines and in expanding ways in which their learning at Austin College extends beyond the classroom into their professional and personal lives,” the release said.


The new chairs and the faculty installed include:


The Richardson Chair for the Center for Research, Experience & Transformative Education (CREATE)—Dr. Lance Barton, professor of biology and director of CREATE


The Richardson Chair for the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program—Dr. Mark Hebert, associate professor of philosophy and active in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Program


The Richardson Chair for the Professionalism and the Humanities (PATH) Leadership Program—Dr. Jennifer Johnson-Cooper, associate professor of Chinese and director of the PATH Program


The Richardson Chair for the STEM Teaching And Research (STAR) Leadership program—Dr. John Richardson, associate professor of chemistry and director of the STAR Leadership Program.


“The Richardson gift ensures that opportunities for students to meaningfully engage in the very core of our liberal arts and sciences education will be preserved in perpetuity,” said Beth Gill, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty. “The impact of the gift will be felt year after year, generation after generation.”