stuart hall School on Friday celebrated the 170th anniversary of its founding with an announcement of a $500,000 gift by stuart hall alumna Lucy Dent Venable. This gift doubles the scholarship endowment fund that Miss Venable established in the 1980s to support African American female students. Her total contribution to stuart hall School now stands at more than one million dollars and extends the Venable Scholarship to African American male students.
Miss Venable’s support of stuart hall School began more than 30 years ago. A 1944 graduate of Stuart Hall, she attended school during a time of racial segregation. Even as a child, she thought it unfair that African Americans did not have access to the same quality education she received, and complained frequently to her mother. Venable remembers her mother saying, “If you are so upset, then you’d better do something about it.” Years later, she took her mother’s advice and offered to fund two scholarships for African American students at stuart hall.
As a result, in the fall of 1972, stuart hall admitted its first African American students: Renee Smith Gatling and Julia Beatrice Reed. Miss Gatling became the first African American student to graduate from the School in 1973, followed by Miss Reed in 1974. Miss Venable continued to fund scholarships for African American students on an annual basis until 1985, when she established the Amy C. Venable Scholarship Endowment Fund in honor of the inspiration for her philanthropy, her mother.
“Miss Venable’s generous support of our School is a wonderful example of how philanthropy can positively affect the lives of many,” said Mark Eastham, Head of School for stuart hall School. “When she was young, Miss Venable witnessed how African Americans were unjustly treated in our society, and she made it her personal mission to use her resources to effect change. Because of Miss Venable’s patronage, 40 African American students have received a scholarship to attend Stuart Hall, and today’s gift will insure that the Amy C. Venable Scholarship will be available for future generations.”
One stuart hall School graduate who has benefitted from Miss Venable’s generosity is Denise Wooldridge, Class of 1976, “There are no words to express what Lucy Venable and her support of African American students at stuart hall means to me. Her generosity has been a blessing through the years and will continue to be a blessing to so many more in the future. As a graduate of Duke University, an early retiree of Kraft Foods and currently as vice president of McCain Foods, my education at stuart hall was critical to my professional success. Miss Venable made this happen for me and I will be forever grateful.”
stuart hall School’s history has been shaped not only by the circumstances of the day, but also influenced by individuals such as Lucy Venable who strive to expand educational opportunities. From its founding in 1844, stuart hall School remains true to its mission to prepare students for success in colleges and universities worldwide and for engaged, healthy lives of intellectual curiosity, responsible citizenship, creative expression, ethical leadership, and compassionate service. African American students who are interested in applying for the Amy C. Venable Scholarship should contact Stuart Hall’s Admissions office at 540/213-7774.