Loras College receives $3.2 million estate gift

Money will continue to fund several scholarship and award programs

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Loras College, a Catholic liberal arts college, has received an estate gift of more than $3.2 million from the late Rev. William Wilkie, a 1950 graduate and professor emeritus of history. The gift will supplement the William E. Wilkie Fund to bring the total endowment to over $3.5 million.

The fund will support six programs and awards: The William E. Wilkie Liturgical Program, William E. Wilkie Double Major Scholarship, Wilkie Classic Film Collection Fund, Professor William Green Senior History Award, Monsignor William D. Green Award and the Roger Rechenmacher Scholarship Award for Creativity.

“Father Wilke touched many lives at Loras through his teaching and passion for the arts, specifically music,” Jim Collins, president of Loras College, said. “He was so pleased by the strong emphasis on liturgical music and its perfected performance in his later years at Loras. He never thought he’d live long enough to see its full beauty. His legacy at Loras was already solidified and this will ensure it endures for generations of students.”

Wilkie died in May 2017 at the age of 87.

The Wilkie Liturgical Program, established in 2012, pays stipends to Loras students who serve as instrumentalists, cantors, acolytes and sacristans at select Masses. Participants can also receive musical training and professional development. In its first year, the program granted 40 awards of $250 per semester to students involved in Loras’ Liturgical Music Ministry. Today, 50 awards of $275 are given per semester.

Built upon Wilkie’s desire for Loras students to “nobly obtain a professional major to make a living, and liberal arts major to make a life,” the William E. Wilkie Double Major Scholarship, established in 2017, is awarded annually to support students double majoring in subjects that qualify for this scholarship.

The Wilkie Classic Film Collection Distribution Program, established in 2014, allocates funds to add, publicize and circulate movies to the Wilkie Classic Film Collection housed at the Loras College Library.

The Professor William Green History Award, established in 1977, is awarded to the top senior history major as chosen by the Loras College History Department faculty.

The Monsignor William D. Green Award, established in 1976, is awarded annually to a Loras student majoring in history. This award was established by Monsignor Green’s family and Wilkie.

The Roger Rechenmacher Scholarship Award for Creativity was established in memory of Roger Rechenmacher in 1970 who was tragically killed in an automobile accident returning to the Loras campus in the spring of 1968. This award is given annually to a Loras student who demonstrates creativity in one of the arts, particularly music.

Wilke received his bachelor’s degrees in history and fine arts from Loras in May 1950. In May of 1954, he was ordained in Christ the King Chapel by Bishop Loras Lane, then-president of Loras College. Wilkie pursued his graduate work at the Catholic University of America and the University of Cambridge (London, England) and received his Ph.D. at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Wilke, an ardent local historian, published “Dubuque on the Mississippi” in 1987. The massive volume has become one of the best sources for Dubuque history. It contains maps, photos of citizens and views from the past, along with narrative text and an extensive index. Printed again in 1988 and 1989, the book went on to earn a Certificate of Commendation by the American Association for State and Local History.

In May 1998, after 41 years, Wilkie retired from Loras and named professor emeritus. In 2000, he retired from priesthood.

Loras leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan institutions to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras ranks among 450 NCAA Division III athletic programs in Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings, 13th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges and is among the 200 Best-Loved Colleges in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.

Visit www.loras.edu, call (563) 588-7100 or (800) 245-6727, like Loras College on Facebook or follow @lorascollege to learn more.

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