Post's Greenfield Makes 'Classic' Bequest to UW

Before her death in May 1999, journalist Meg Greenfield occupied a uniquely influential position in American life and politics. As editor of the Washington Post's editorial page, she helped shape public and private opinion. She was well known as a columnist for Newsweek magazine. But few people knew about her private passion—classical languages and literature.

Her bequest of almost $3 million to the University of Washington's Department of Classics reveals the depth of that passion. Her bequest includes approximately $2 million for an endowed scholarship fund named for her late brother Jim Greenfield, who died in 1973. She also left her Bainbridge Island home to the department as a place of retreat and study, along with an endowment to maintain it.

A Seattle native, Greenfield spent her professional life outside the Northwest but she visited frequently. Through her friendship with then-President William P. Gerberding, she met faculty in the Department of Classics and began making annual gifts for scholarships named for her brother. The Pulitzer Prize-winning editorialist was the main speaker at the 1997 UW Commencement in Seattle.

"She was interested in classical authors concerned with ethics," says UW Classics Professor Daniel Harmon, former chair of the department. "She also loved the comic writer Plautus. His portrayals of life's ironies and absurdities captured her imagination. Meg delighted in the timeless quality of these writers' observations."

The bequest is one of the largest gifts ever received within the College of Arts and Sciences. "Meg's generosity will enable us to offer full scholarships to undergraduates and competitive fellowships to graduate students," says Department Chair Stephen Hinds. "In an academic field like ours, a gift on this scale is transformative."

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