CARLINVILLE, IL – Dr. Elisabeth Gantt ’58 has provided a $2 million gift to Blackburn College’s Gantt/Rohatsch Scholarship, first established in 2002 to benefit Blackburn students who have financial need and demonstrate significant academic promise. Dr. Gantt made the gift in honor of her late husband, Dr. R. Raymond Gantt ‘58, who passed away in April 2020.
Dr. Ray Gantt, originally from Chicago, graduated from Blackburn with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and enjoyed a long career as Senior Research Biochemist with the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, MD, where he was dedicated to cancer research.
Dr. Elisabeth Gantt also graduated from Blackburn in 1958 and they were soon married. Dr. E. Gantt received her Ph.D. in Biology from Northwestern University and became a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s Radiation Biology Laboratory as well as a prominent professor at the University of Maryland. Her work garnered several awards and, in 1996, she was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences when only five percent of the members were women.
“My husband saw our gifts to Blackburn as a way to support both the college and future students. He found the academic reputation, affordable price, and Blackburn’s Work Program was a way for him to go to college,” said Dr. Elisabeth Gantt. “Now we have the chance to help provide a similar opportunity for a new generation of students.”
While at Blackburn, Dr. Ray Gantt worked in the early morning hours, stoking the coal-fired boiler that provided heat for many buildings on campus. He later worked on the construction of the first science building on campus, Olin Hall. Academically, Dr. R. Gantt held great interest in chemistry but also attributed much of his success to the instruction and mentorship of Dr. William Werner, a well-known biology professor for several decades.
“Dr. Gantt is a wonderful example of a Blackburn alumna who wants to recognize the life-changing experience she and her husband received at Blackburn and create an opportunity for today’s students,” noted Lauren Dodge, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “This generous gift will ensure that a new generation of scholars with financial need can receive a transformational Blackburn education. In Dr. Gantt’s words, ‘college opens the world’ for students, and we are incredibly grateful for this significant gift.”
Founded in 1837, Blackburn College is a four-year, Presbyterian-related, co-educational liberal arts college located in Carlinville, IL. One of nine federally-recognized Work Colleges, Blackburn has the only student-managed Work Program in the nation providing an opportunity to develop critical skills and build a resume along with their degrees. In September 2019, U.S. News & World Report recognized Blackburn College as one of the top 10 best Liberal Arts Colleges in the Nation for Social Mobility. The Center for Education & the Workforce at Georgetown University ranked Blackburn as a top performer for Earnings-Price Return – 209% (#1 in IL, #10 in the U.S.) and Net Price (#1 in IL; #11 in the U.S.). The Washington Monthly twice ranked Blackburn as the best baccalaureate college in Illinois.