News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 26: Violet L. Patton

Violet L. Patton

Amount donated in 2010: $41.3-million

Beneficiary: Ohio University

Donor’s background: Ms. Patton is a retired assistant professor of art education at Miami University of Ohio, in Oxford, who invested in stock in American Home Products, which later became the pharmaceuticals giant Wyeth.

Ms. Patton pledged two gifts totaling $41.3-million to Ohio University, in Athens, last year. She pledged $28-million for the Patton College of Education and Human Services and directed the university to use the money for building renovations and programs for students and faculty.

She also pledged $13.3-million for the College of Fine Arts to establish a new arts-education center, which the university has named the Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education. The center will develop programs to improve arts education in the area’s local public schools and to increase the number of local children who graduate from colleges and universities.

Payment schedules are not available for either gift commitment.

Ms. Patton graduated from Ohio University in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in education and went on to teach art in mostly small, impoverished elementary schools, eventually developing and writing an arts-education curriculum that was widely used throughout Ohio.

While teaching at a school in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Ms. Patton taught a young student named Neil Armstrong, who would later become the first man to walk on the moon.

Ms. Patton also wrote textbooks and collaborated with her mother, Gladys Patton, to write a series of etiquette books for children called Little Dot Learns. In 1945 she joined the faculty of Miami University of Ohio, where she taught for the rest of her career.

— Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.