MUW receives largest single gift ever at $3.26 million
July 3, 2008
COLUMBUS, Miss. – A $3.26 million estate recently left to Mississippi University for Women will go toward scholarships for students. The gift is the largest single gift ever made to MUW through the MUW Foundation and will provide more than $150,000 per year in perpetuity in scholarships.
The Harriett Piper Brenneman Scholarship Fund was established by John Brenneman through his will in honor of his wife, Harriett, who received her master of education from Mississippi State College for Women in 1971 and her bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.
She was from Newville, Pa., and died Aug. 19, 1982.
Dr. Claudia A. Limbert, MUW president, said, “We are so thankful for Mr. Brenneman’s generosity to MUW. The Harriett Piper Brenneman Scholarship Fund will be used to further our academic quality by helping students just like Mrs. Brenneman achieve the dream of a college education.”
John Brenneman, who was a retired Air Force staff sergeant, died Jan. 10, 2007. He was a U.S. Army veteran of WWII and a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean conflict and the Vietnam era. He was the holder of many honors and awards for his many years of service to his country.
“He was alone for quite a few years,” said Jane Burke, who is with M & T Investment Group in Carlisle, Pa. “When he retired, they were totally devoted to each other. There was no family. I really think he kept thinking about her.”
Burke said she also found it interesting that “They were both pilots in that day and age.”
Dr. Gary Bouse, MUW vice president for institutional advancement, said, “What makes this gift so special is not only the amount, but the spirit in which it was given. How wonderful it was for Mr. Brenneman to have had the opportunity to honor his wife through this remarkable gift. Although the Brenneman’s are no longer with us, their influence will
be felt for generations to come.”
Richard Tritt, who works as a photo curator with the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle, recalls both John and Harriett being only children.
“I knew her parents—Donald and Irene Piper. They were Presbyterians and lived in Newville. I grew up in the same church as her (Harriet Piper),” he said. “The Pipers were well respected people. I think her father was in the insurance business, and her mother was a substitute organist in the church.”
Tritt said items from the estate, including her diploma, other manuscript items and some 200 photos are part of their archival collection. The historical society has the fourth largest manuscript collection in Pennsylvania with about 20 staff members and half a million photos. Harriet Brenneman’s diploma and seven original photos will be given to MUW.
Dr. R. Edward Betcher, chairman of the MUW Foundation Board of Directors, said, “In the current environment of limited funding, institutions like MUW rely heavily on benefactors such as the Brennemans. This gift will allow the MUW Foundation to provide scholarships in the coming years.”
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