Determined to make a difference in young people’s lives, Trustee Anne Wilson Cannon ’74 has made a multi-million-dollar estate gift to Occidental College that, when added to her previous giving, makes her the largest living individual donor in the College’s 134-year history.
The bulk of the new commitment will ultimately create the Anne Wilson Cannon ’74 Unrestricted Endowment to fund the greatest needs of the College, including student scholarships and endowed professorships. Cannon, co-chair of The Oxy Campaign For Good, is also underwriting the creation of Cannon Plaza, an outdoor multipurpose space that continues the longstanding tradition of renovating and repurposing Oxy’s historic architecture.
“It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I and the Occidental College Board of Trustees announce Anne’s profound and transformational support of the College,” said Occidental President Harry J. Elam, Jr. “Her collective gifts to the endowment and to the Oxy Fund will affect the lives of students, faculty and staff for good, both today and for decades to come.”
“Quite honestly, I am blown away by what Oxy alumni contribute to the world. That is why I give back,” said Cannon, a CPA, financial analyst, and financial adviser who has served as an Occidental trustee since 2007. “I just want to do my part to help ensure Oxy’s ability to continue to provide an outstanding liberal arts education to future generations.”
Oxy was her first choice for college, but she left after her junior year to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania to study accounting. She had a successful 30-year career in finance, including nine years as a partner in a Hong Kong art gallery, but returned to Eagle Rock in 2005 to finish her anthropology degree. She graduated a year later on the same day her son Joshua completed his studies at Bucknell. (Cannon's story was featured in Occidental magazine)
If her efforts as Campaign co-chair are successful, her lifetime giving total won’t be the largest for long, she added. “It’s not my intention to stay at the top of the leaderboard. I’m hoping that someone will step up and eclipse my gift. That's my challenge—I want to inspire others to give.”
Unrestricted gifts are rare, and one of this magnitude “is almost unheard of,” said Steve Rountree ’71, chair of the Occidental Board of Trustees. “Anne’s giving will have a sustained and positive impact on Oxy’s commitment to academic excellence, providing essential and flexible funding for innovative programs and curricular offerings, thereby strengthening our ability to recruit and retain talented students and faculty.”
The Cannon gift could not come at a better time, Rountree continued. “Anne knows that the future of the College is in good hands with President Elam. Her latest commitment is a major boost to The Oxy Campaign For Good; her support for all four Campaign priorities, through both current use and endowed funds, highlight her exemplary leadership as both a Campaign co-chair and trustee.”
The Campaign, which has now raised $184.5 million in gifts, seeks to raise a total of $225 million to fund four priorities: endowing student scholarships, internships and research experiences; endowing professorships, academic and co-curricular programs; the maintenance and modernization of Oxy’s 107-year-old campus; and support of the unrestricted Oxy Fund, which pays for everything from internships to athletics.
In addition to her support of the endowment, Cannon is providing the lead gift for the transformation of Taylor Pool into Cannon Plaza. Designed by famed architect Myron Hunt, Taylor Pool has been a campus landmark since 1930. Completion of the De Mandel Aquatics Center last year now makes it possible to fill Taylor Pool, preserve the colonnaded E.S. Field Building that defines the space, and convert it into a courtyard and garden for outdoor gatherings. The project is scheduled to get underway later this year.
Cannon's lifetime support of the College sets a new record for individual giving and will have a lasting impact on generations of Oxy students. Similar transformational commitments from the William M. Keck, Margaret Bundy Scott and John Parke Young and Marie S. Young trusts have funded named scholarships and a historic increase in financial aid, as well as the John Parke Young Initiative on the Global Political Economy, a signature Oxy program that funds international research, internships and conference travel for students.