Bonenberger Speaks on the Generosity of the Rowan Family
Continued from Page 1 Hall because he inspired us to do things we didn ’ t think we could do .”
He went on to explain that Lee Rowan , Henry Rowan ’ s wife , after his death , provided a major gift of $ 10 million . Those funds endowed the power plant , which is now named the Lee Rowan School of Power Plant Technology , and expanded the dining room . The Rowan Family Foundation provided for the construction of the Betty and Russell 5W0 Athletic Field .
Bonenberger said major gifts improve the quality of life on campus . When a young man who comes from a family without a great deal of money receives a scholarship to attend Williamson , it ’ s like winning the lottery . “ When you walk off the stage at Commencement , it pays dividends for the rest of your life . Financially , but also in other ways that get you through life - your faith , the other core values , leadership skills , and the things that make a Williamson Man .”
He explained that 120 companies attend the Career Fairs because they are anxious to hire Williamson graduates because they know of the school ’ s reputation . He said that all of the graduates since the school was founded helped create this good reputation and it is up to future graduates to maintain it .
“ It is important that you pay it forward so that other young men in the future can receive the same education you received . It is not important how much you give , but that you give . There are over 6,000 colleges and universities and technical schools across the country , but only one that offers every student a full scholarship with room and board and no strings attached .”
He said graduates have no obligations to the school at all , but if they don ’ t do their part , the school ’ s reputation will be hurt and the finances to keep it going will not be there .
“ Williamson is not free ; someone had to pay for it . With all of our generous donors , there is not enough to pay for all of the scholarships . Our endowment provides money to cover some of our operating budget , but there is a deficit of $ 2.7 million which the Advancement Office must raise .
He then said , “ ‘ To whom much is given , much is required .’ This is from Luke 12:48 . God wants you to use your time , talent , and treasure to pay it forward to help the next guy .”
He said the Williamson story in a nutshell is that an individual on a journey is helped by the next guy . When the guy who received help gets up , he helps the next guy .
“ This journey started with Isaiah Williamson . There was something inside him that motivated him to give up his money to help others . This is how Williamson has existed for 133 years and the only way it can continue to exist . You will see that what you learned here is worth supporting .”
At the conclusion of Bonenberger ’ s address , James McChesney , president of the senior class , presented him with the Rowan Award , which was designed and fabricated by Williamson ’ s carpenters and machinists .
McChesney said , “ This award is intended to honor the hard work and generous spirit of Henry Rowan . The gears represent the six trades and the five core values , that together work to create a Williamson Man .”
President Michael Rounds , in his welcoming remarks , said “ Today we honor our great benefactor Henry Rowan , his family , and the Henry Rowan Family Foundation . The generosity of the Rowan family has helped us to grow and improve every aspect of Williamson . Williamson was created over 130 years ago and has been supported by philanthropy and by generosity .
“ Without Hank Rowan ’ s giving , beginning 15 years ago and including subsequent gifts by his wife and the Rowan Family Foundation , we may not have been able to stay open . If we had , we would look a lot different than we do today . We owe a great deal to the Rowans and all the generous donors who make it possible to receive the education you receive today and well into the future .”
Michael Piotrowicz , Williamson ’ s longest-serving trustee , in his trustee remarks , said “ For me , this has always been a special day at Williamson because it brings back a lot of memories of a great man and a great family and I think that is what Williamson is all about , helping to create great men and great families .
“ If Henry Rowan was here today , what would he be saying to you guys ? He would focus on the core values . He believed in hard work and discipline and the importance of education . He saw the shortage of skilled people in the country and thought this was a problem . He would say Williamson ’ s 1,000- day journey is a $ 100,000 opportunity .”
Piotrowicz explained that in 2000 , Henry Rowan first visited the Williamson campus and that he was very interested in visiting the shops and talking with the students . “ He was very interested in everything going on here and the trades . He liked that we taught discipline and values . He told me we have something really good and really special and that what our graduates do makes the world a better place . He realized we are preparing our students for life .
“ He was a man who worked with his hands . He started a furnace business in his garage and built furnaces on his
William Bonenberger 7W9 , board chairman , delivered the keynote address at the 5th Annual Rowan Day in November . Pictured are ( from left to right ): President Michael Rounds ; Janet and William Bonenberger ; Michael Piotrowicz , trustee ; and James McChesney , senior class president . Bonenberger is holding the Rowan Award , which honors the hard work and generous spirit of Henry Rowan .
own . It is now the largest induction furnace company in the world and his family has done a tremendous job continuing the business .
“ He and I never talked much about money , but he sent a nice check at the end of every year . Eight years later was the magic day . He said he ’ d like to make a gift of $ 5 million , but there is more to it than that . It would be a matching gift requiring new donors . He said we have a financial problem and the problem would not be solved with a check . He said we need to get Williamson introduced to more people and get them to feel what I feel and that is what will solve your problem .
“ A couple years later , we had raised $ 2 million toward the challenge and needed $ 3 million more . We met with Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest and approached
The Williamsonian USPS ( 684-860 ) Spring 2022 Vol . 85 , No . 1 The Williamsonian is published two times a year by Williamson College of the Trades .
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“ Lenfest knew all about Williamson . He said you really need $ 50 million and if you get that other $ 3 million , I ’ ll give you $ 20 million and Henry Rowan will give the other $ 20 million .
“ It was an unbelievable time in the history of Williamson and it put us in the place where we are today .”
He said we are all working to make Williamson a better place and it all started when he made that $ 5 million gift challenge . Since that time , we have had 210 donors of $ 10,000 or more and 20 donors of a million dollars or more .”
Other parts of the event included Rev . Mark Specht 7W7 giving the invocation and benediction and the Artisans leading the group in the singing of the alma mater to close the ceremony .
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Williamson College of the Trades prepares deserving young men to be respected leaders and productive members of society . Williamson develops the entire student , spiritually , socially , and professionally , emphasizing academic , trade , technical , and moral education in a structured community based on Judeo-Christian principles , without charging for tuition , room , or board .