The Minnesota chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which gathers Friday for its annual Philanthropy Day, reserves its Legacy Award for givers who are no longer living. Even so, this year’s award seems a mite belated. Recipients Kate and William Hood Dunwoody died more than 100 years ago.
That’s not to suggest that the Dunwoodys are undeserving. To the contrary: They rank among pioneers named Pillsbury, Washburn, Crosby and Hill as Minnesota builders. They had no children. But their institutional offspring are numerous and long-lived. One in particular — Dunwoody College of Technology — is keen to keep their memory alive as it moves into a second century of training Minnesotans for technology careers.
A Pennsylvanian who came to Minneapolis in 1869, W.H. Dunwoody was the young Washburn-Crosby Co. salesman who in 1877 opened the European market to the superior flour being milled at the Falls of St. Anthony. He was later a partner and the largest stockholder in the milling company that is today’s General Mills, as well as a founder or investor in several other milling and railroad ventures.
Valuable as that business leadership was, the Dunwoodys’ philanthropy may have had greater impact. They financed the original Abbott Hospital in gratitude for the medical care Dr. Amos Abbott gave Kate. Their $100,000 gift launched the Minneapolis Institute of Art; Kate’s gift of paintings added much to its collection. The YMCA, YWCA and Westminster Presbyterian Church were major beneficiaries of their largesse. Kate’s interest in the plight of young single working women led the couple to donate their home on 10th Street for use as a dormitory. What became known as Kate Dunwoody Hall operated for 84 years.
It’s fitting that Dunwoody College bears their names, because it received their largest bequests — $4.5 million, or $108 million in today’s dollars. William’s will directs that the school should teach industrial and mechanical arts, and should be “free to the youth of the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota without distinction on account of race, color or religious prejudice.” The founder’s wishes about free tuition could not long be honored. But his directive about unbiased admissions proudly endures at the region’s only nonprofit polytechnic college, which to date has produced more than 250,000 graduates.
The Dunwoody story is “one of Minnesota’s best-kept secrets,” wrote Dunwoody College President Rich Wagner in nominating his school’s founders for today’s award. Bravo to the fundraisers’ association for getting this secret out in the open, where it belongs.