Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Philosophy & Religious Studies
Mary Olive Woods History
Mary Olive Woods was born in Littleton township on April 23rd, 1871 and died in Macomb, IL at the age of 85. Following a complicated twenty-nine year court case a portion of her estate was given to Western Illinois University. The complications with Woods’ will stemmed from the fact that she and her husband Orel Woods never had children and that her original will stipulated the inheritance should go to the U.S. government if it ever became a theocracy under one Protestant God. However, a 1959 court decision found Woods sound of mind but noted that a theocratic government was unlikely in the United States. In 1985 a McDonough County Circuit judge ruled that 75% of the trust funds would go to the Littleton Baptist Church while the remaining 25% would go to the Western Illinois University Foundation, a fund-raising branch of the University.
Objectives of MOW Trust
One of the primary objectives of Mary Olive Woods Trust is to support undergraduates in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Furthermore, the MOW Trust aims to promote the academic study of Philosophy and Religion within the wider university community by hosting guest speakers in philosophy and religious studies.
The Mary Olive Woods Trust money is allocated in two ways. Each semester the trust supports undergraduate majors and minors in Philosophy and Religious Studies through academic scholarships. The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies is fortunate to have the MOW Trust to support an annual lecture given by top scholars in the fields of Philosophy and Religious Studies. The MOW Trust has supported an eclectic and impressive group of scholars since 1987. Past MOW guest speakers include: Ninian Smart, Martin E. Marty, Michael Ruse, Wendy Doniger, and Alvin Plantinga. Every Fall a campus-wide lecture is given followed the next morning by a smaller discussion and question/answer session open to interested students and faculty.
Link to past Mary Olive Woods Lecturers
Link to Mary Olive Woods Scholarship information