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Spring on the York College campus

Willman Family Gifts

Karen Willman - Professional Headshot

A York family that has generously supported York College is continuing its legacy of giving by making the largest gift ever toward a graduate scholarship at the College and a gift to build a green roof at York Country Day School. 

Karen and Dennis Willman, who served as a trustee of the College for 15 years and earned a Distinguished Alumni Award, previously made a significant gift to name York College’s Willman Business Center. Dennis passed away in 2016, and Karen has continued to maintain a strong relationship with York College, currently serving in a campaign leadership position. 

To honor her late husband, she pledged nearly half a million dollars in 2018 to create The Dennis Willman Endowed MBA Fellowship. Fellows will be selected jointly by the Dean of the Graham School of Business and the Vice President of Enrollment Management. To be eligible, applicants must possess a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate career and maintain at least that GPA in graduate studies in pursuit of the MBA. Preference will be given to graduate students from York County. The first recipient of the Fellowship will be named during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

“Dennis loved York College and worked tirelessly over the years to help in any way he could to make the school what it is today,” said Karen. “Along the way it became a family affair. Coming from a family business of entrepreneurs, I thought the best way to continue his work would be to offer a Fellowship in his name so others would have an opportunity to achieve their success in the field of business. My hope is that the end result will be to keep the York business community flourishing.” 

“The Dennis Willman Endowed MBA Fellowship presents a tremendous opportunity for both the College and our students,” said Nicole Sadowski, PhD, Director of Graduate Studies for the Graham School of Business. “The Fellowship will allow the College to recognize highly qualified graduate students for their accomplishments to date and their ability to contribute to the business community in the future. The Fellowship will make it possible for MBA students to fund their graduate studies, as well as strengthen their professional credentials.” 

In addition, Karen partnered with York Country Day School’s Class of 2019 to build a green roof, or Legacy Garden, at the School. The Willman family’s gift of $50,000 allowed the graduating students to construct the space that contains flowers, vegetables, and other items for the community to enjoy. Two of Karen’s grandchildren are students at York Country Day School, and the family has been consistent and generous supporters of the School. 

“Our grandchildren attend York Country Day, and when I would visit the school I would pass by the barren space and think this needs a garden to give it life,” Karen said. “When I heard the Class of 2019 had that same vision and were working hard to make that happen, I wanted to partner with them to make it a reality. Something barren was transformed into a garden of life. Now that is a true legacy for the school to enjoy.” 

“Karen Willman and the Willman family’s gift of the Legacy Garden demonstrates the timelessness and positive influence of nature on the mental and physical wellness of people,” said Christine Heine, Head of School. “YCDS is grateful for this gift of beauty and generosity.”

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