Monmouth College Receives Gift of Farmland Worth Nearly $12 Million


Monmouth College has received a gift valued at nearly $12 million, the second-largest donation in the College’s 171-year history.

The gift comes in the form of a 780-acre farm in Mercer County, Illinois, from the estate of longtime supporter Marilyn Johnston, a 1948 graduate of the College. It is valued at $11,929,000.

“The Monmouth College community is deeply grateful for Marilyn’s extraordinary generosity and dedication to the College,” said Monmouth President Clarence Wyatt. “Maintaining this gift as working farmland will honor Marilyn’s legacy and further highlights the College’s role in serving our region.”

Johnston’s gift is “yet another sign of the importance of deferred and planned giving arrangements, an area in which our development operation has made great strides in the last few years,” said Monmouth Vice President of Development and College Relations Hannah Maher.

The Johnston farm will become part of the College’s investments, nearly doubling the size of its farmland holdings, both in acreage and value. The gift will also expand the College’s endowment and investments, which are used to support areas such as scholarships and academic programs. Since 2013, the value of Monmouth’s endowment has grown by more than $40 million.

Johnston was a longtime donor to the College, giving annually for nearly four decades, including a major gift to the Monmouth chaplaincy endowment.

Born in Chicago, Johnston grew up in Aledo, Illinois, and graduated from Aledo High School in 1943. She transferred to Monmouth after completing two years at Stevens College in Missouri and then being asked to leave the University of Michigan to make room for the many returning college-bound in-state World War II veterans.

Johnston graduated from Monmouth in 1948 with a degree in general studies and went on to earn a nursing degree from the University of Colorado. She worked as a nurse in Denver for five years before returning to Illinois to care for her aging parents and to serve for 25 years at Mercer County Hospital. She was a missionary nurse from 1955-82 as well as a longtime farmer in the Aledo area.

Johnston died in September 2023 at the age of 98 in Washington, Iowa.

Johnston’s father, the late Robert Currie “R.C.” Johnston, served on Monmouth College Senate, which preceded the Board of Trustees as the College’s governing body.

The Johnston farm gives Monmouth five working farms that are now part of the College’s investment portfolio.

Founded in 1853 and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Monmouth College provides a transformative educational experience within a caring community of learners. A residential liberal arts college that is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement, Monmouth College empowers students to realize their full potential, live meaningful lives, pursue successful careers, and shape their communities and the world through service and leadership.

***Courtesy of Duane Bonifer, Monmouth College***

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