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2 Amherst College gifts largest ever to the school

AMHERST, Mass. - AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Amherst College received separate gifts of $100 million and $25 million, the two largest in its history, the liberal arts school announced.

The gifts were pledged by two alumni who chose to remain anonymous, with the $100 million donation believed to be the largest unrestricted cash gift ever made to a liberal arts college, the school said in a statement for release on Wednesday.

Both gifts will be paid over five years and will provide operating support, the school said.

"In a difficult economic moment, when institutions and individuals have fewer resources, these unrestricted gifts to the endowment represent extraordinary votes of support for Amherst College, and the mission of educational quality and access at liberal arts colleges in general," said Anthony W. Marx, the college's president.

The money will be allocated as needed, Marx said, including enhanced financial aid, hiring more faculty and building new facilities or renovating existing ones.

The college launched a $425 million fundraising campaign in October 2008.

The school's statement included comments attributed to both anonymous donors, including one from the $100 million donor who called Amherst, "a jewel of enlightenment, social mobility based on talent and preparation for leadership that we must all maintain."

Peter Rooney, a spokesman for Amherst, said the school is confident based on research it did that the $100 million gift was the largest ever given for unrestricted purposes to a liberal arts college.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which tracks charitable gifts that are publicly reported, said it does not specifically break out gifts made to liberal arts colleges.

The $100 million gift would rank among the largest of any kind to a U.S. college or university in 2009, according to a list compiled by the center.

The University of Akron received a $218 million gift of software from Siemens AG for its College of Engineering earlier this year.

Founded in 1821, Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., has about 1,600 undergraduate students.

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