Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest officials say a $1 million endowment donation will allow continued funding of rigorous academic programs at the Catholic college preparatory high school for young women.
School officials announced Wednesday that Susan Brennan Morrison, Woodlands Academy class of 1969, and her husband, Bob, provided the $1 million gift. It was presented in honor of Susan Morrison's late mother, Eileen Bruck Brennan, a 1949 graduate of Barat College of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest.
Woodlands Academy marketing director Anne O'Connell said the donation was significant and came after Susan Morrison, a Lake Forest resident, received the St. Philippine Duchesne Outstanding Alumna Award on May 16. O'Connell said Woodlands Academy has had one other $1 million donation within in the past 15 years.
"This is a very generous gift for Woodlands, without a doubt," O'Connell told the Daily Herald.
Susan Morrison, a lifelong athlete, was captain of the Woodlands Academy field hockey team. She said she wanted to leave the legacy of her mother to help other women.
"Woodlands Academy is a community that knows you, your good and bad days," the former advertising executive said in a statement. "You graduate from Woodlands Academy feeling that you can succeed. You go into the world with even footing. You are more confident stepping into your possibilities."
Lori W. Reyes, who leads the Woodlands Academy board of trustees, expressed gratitude for the gift. She said future generations of girls will benefit from the Morrisons' generosity.
"Our endowment allows us to provide Woodlands' rigorous academic program within the unique Sacred Heart environment," Reyes said. "It is a transformative combination. Each year, we watch Woodlands girls grow into women of grace who live out the Sacred Heart mission each day and change the world around them."
Officials said the endowment comes as the former Barat College property in south Lake Forest has been reconnected with the neighboring Woodlands Academy. O'Connell said donors acquired Barat's 23 acres and gave it to Woodlands Academy for expansion.
Plans call for two new athletic fields on the Barat land, while protecting a cemetery, ravines and front lawn.
Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college prep day and boarding high school for young women. It's in a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools.