Surprise $20 Million Bequeathed to Seminary

Jan 29, 2015

A surprise $20 million was bequeathed to the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, making it the largest gift the 220-year-old school has ever received.  

The gift was given by Robert Thomson a lifelong Pittsburgher and Presbyterian. Thomson owned Thomson & Sproull Insurance.

“He and I had lunch 4-5 times a year every year, and I never knew whether or not we were in his will, until he died this past fall, and we got the good news. So it’s a big surprise and we were very very pleased to hear the news,” said Willian J. Carl III, president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

The money will be used to endow a new chair for theology and church history, further support financial aid, and build a new library, but $14 million remains to be designated.

The annual budget for the seminary is about $12 million. Carl says that it will probably be about a year before the school decides how to spend the remainder.  

“This seminary was founded in 1794. It’s the 3rd oldest free standing theological school in North America, and it is the oldest in the Presbyterian Seminaries, it’s older than Princeton seminary, and this is the largest gift from a living or deceased donor in the history of the school,” said Carl.