College receives $1.5M bequest
- Published: July 29, 2010
Antioch College became the recipient of a $1.5 million bequest last week from alumnus Bernard West, who attended the college from 1932–33. The gift is part of a total $17 million in funds the college has raised since it gained its independence from Antioch University last September, college communications director Gariot Louima said last week.
West left the gift to the college in 1997, when he died in the Virgin Islands. However, in 2008, when the university declared financial exigency at the college and closed its doors, West’s sons Richard and Davis West contested the legitimacy of the bequest. This month the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands, Division of St. Croix, ruled that the bequest as written should be honored. The court ordered that the funds would be held in trust by the executor of West’s estate until the college reopens, as it plans to in 2011.
Half of the gift was to benefit “research in general semantics, group dynamics and/ or psychodrama,” and the other half was to be used to establish a scholarship for students from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
While the restrictions placed on the West gift are not out of the ordinary, the bequest is one of the largest the college has received this year, according to the development office. Over reunion weekend last month, the college received an anonymous $1.5 million matching challenge grant. And giving from degree-holding alumni has risen to 26 percent this year, Louima said.
Since last September the college has raised a total of $17 million, almost exclusively from Antioch College alumni, Louima said. The West gift puts the college that much closer to its goal to raise $50 million in five years.
The college did not learn of the bequest until at least four years ago, when an executor of the West estate contacted the college. The college, then part of the university, turned the matter over to Antioch University, according to Louima. The college reopened its effort to receive the bequest after it separated from the university.
West was not at the college long, but its programs must have made an impact on him, Louima said. After he left Antioch College, West stayed in the area for several years and by 1960 was president of a communications consulting firm. He later became a real estate speculator in the Virgin Islands.