Chatham Hall Receives Largest Girls’ School Gift Ever

| October 15, 2009

Chatham Hall announced today that the school received a $31 million gift from the estate of alumna Elizabeth Beckwith Nilsen '31 (The Nilsen Gift: Chatham Hall Receives Largest Gift in History of Girls’ Schools). Ms. Nilsen directed the funds be made part unrestricted endowment.

Dora Thomas, Chair of the Chatham Hall Board of Trustees expressed her appreciation of the gift and the trust that it signifies:

"My fellow Board members and I are humbled by Mrs. Nilsen's generosity. Given these challenging economic times, when all schools are guarding their bottom line and cautiously planning for the future, this gift comes to Chatham Hall, as it would to any school, as a miracle, and also as an affirmation of the work we do every day educating girls...Through judicious planning, we will honor Mrs. Nilsen in a way that acknowledges how she has honored us by expanding the basis for a secure and dynamic future for Chatham Hall." (CH)

Dr. Gary Fountain, Rector and Head of Chatham Hall commented:

“Elizabeth Nilsen was an unpretentious, private person who wanted no attention focused on herself or her family through this gift...I knew her, as did my immediate predecessors, only through correspondence and telephone conversations, since illness made it difficult for her to have visitors in the later years of her life. Mrs. Nilsen made it clear to me that Chatham Hall, in her words, ‘was the best thing that ever happened to me.’ The School community deeply influenced her and convinced her of the lasting importance of all-girls schools.” (CH)

Ms. Nilsen's gift comes near the end of a capital campaign during which the school has raised more than $57 million. The gift will give Chatham Hall an endowment of over $51 million.