A $5 million gift made by arts philanthropist Kenneth R. Woodcock ’65 will endow a director’s fund for the Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG). The Woodcock Director’s Fund will ensure the protection and preservation of the university’s teaching collection and fulfill the full potential of LUAG as a driver for arts education and engagement for both students and the community.
The fund represents the largest gift ever given to LUAG and will be administered by Director William Crow. Woodcock shares Crow’s vision that art can be an interdisciplinary engine for teaching, learning and research.
“I hope that this gift will be a catalyst for all Lehigh students to develop a love and appreciation of art for the rest of their lives,” Woodcock said. “With William Crow leading the effort, I’m confident we can broaden the experience for both students and the community.”
Crow said Woodcock’s generosity in creating this endowed fund “will provide critical and flexible support that is truly transformative. All museums and cultural institutions wish for the philanthropic leadership that Ken has demonstrated.”
“This gift represents an investment in key programs that offer students hands-on, high-impact learning experiences which is a top priority of GO: The Campaign for Lehigh,” said President John D. Simon ’19P. “We are deeply grateful to Ken for his commitment to enhancing our ability to support the arts at Lehigh, which will no doubt have a deep impact on our students for generations to come.”
“The arts play a central role in the intellectual experience of students, staff and faculty and our engagement with the community. Ken Woodcock’s gift will enable the university to make further strides in garnering national and international recognition of Lehigh as a leader in arts education and programming,” said Robert Flowers, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
After graduating from Lehigh in 1965 with a degree in mechanical engineering and earning an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1966, Woodcock began his career with DuPont. He then served as a Commissioned Officer with the U.S. Public Health Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Administration and the Department of Energy. He was the environmental advisor to the energy czars during the Arab oil embargo of 1974.
In 1981, he was involved in the founding of the AES Corporation, a global electric company, rising to senior vice president in 1987 and retiring in 2004.
Woodcock’s arts philanthropy includes serving as a National Trustee of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. He is an active art collector with a focus on 19th and 20th century American art of the family of the Rev. Edward Everett Hale and has established a private Center for the Study of Hale Family Art for his collection. Previous philanthropic support in the arts includes a $2 million gift to endow a curatorship at PAFA.
“My interest in collecting art began when I traveled to Europe after my experience with the Public Health Service. With AES, I traveled to 50 countries and would always find an art gallery wherever I visited,” Woodcock said.
Woodcock is a longtime Lehigh benefactor, with a history that includes over 30 years of support for the Lehigh Fund. “It’s a chance to give back because of the benefits I received from my Lehigh education,” he said.
The gift is unique in that it is a structured gift—part outright and part bequest. “The advantage of structured gifts is that the donor can immediately see their philanthropy in action with the outright gift and also plan for continued impact as a legacy gift,” said Joe Buck, vice president for development and alumni relations.
Woodcock's support of the university’s commitment to its history and the liberal and classical arts includes the creation of a music recording studio at Zoellner Arts Center and his generous support for the renovations to Linderman Library, where the iconic rotunda is named in his honor.
Woodcock and his wife, Dorothy, have been actively involved with many nonprofit organizations where they reside in Washington, D.C., and Matunuck, Rhode Island. Some of the organizations they support include the Washington National Cathedral, Washington National Opera, Choral Arts Society of Washington, Washington Concert Opera, Preserve Rhode Island, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Art has allowed me to learn more about world history,” Woodcock said. “Through our service and philanthropy, we hope to help others learn, too. We want to make the world a better place.”
Story by Cynthia Tintorri