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Former doc leaves small campus $39 million

– A retired ophthalmologist who donated more than $13 million to the University of Evansville while he was alive has bequeathed a record $39 million to the small, private liberal arts college in southern Indiana.

University officials say the gift from Dr. William Ridgway, who died last month at age 92, is the largest single gift ever made to the university by an individual or corporation, and his total gifts make him the largest donor in the school’s 159-year history.

“Dr. Ridgway was a passionate believer in the importance of higher education and a devoted friend of the University of Evansville,” university President Thomas Kazee said.

“His vision and generosity were limitless, and through this remarkable gift, he will continue to make a profound impact on the university for generations to come.”

About $34 million of the donation from Ridgway will be used to improve academic programs and facilities at the university, which has about 2,400 students.

About $5 million will go toward creating the Ridgway Endowment for Faculty Excellence to support the work of professors.