The Danforth Circle pays tribute to the extraordinary contributions made by the late Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth and Elizabeth Gray Danforth during their 24 years as the university’s first couple.

Members of the Danforth Circle help sustain the exceptional teaching and research that are the hallmarks of a Washington University education through yearly unrestricted gifts of $25,000 or more. Annual giving serves as a catalyst for innovative endeavors throughout the university, and the chancellor and deans use these funds each year to seize opportunities and respond to urgent challenges as they arise. 

The Danforth Circle includes two giving levels

Annual unrestricted gifts

Dean’s Level


Chancellor’s Level

$50,000 or more

Bill and Ibby Danforth
Gene Kahn

“It was particularly fulfilling to work hand-in-hand with the University Advancement team during the year that Make Way debuted to ensure we met and exceeded the goals for membership. As an emeritus trustee, I have significant institutional knowledge and a strong understanding of the university’s strategies and initiatives.”

Gene Kahn, Danforth Circle chair


In 2021–22, Danforth Circle members contributed nearly $11 million in unrestricted gifts to the university. The Danforth Circle is a major source of funding for scholarships and student aid each year. Contributions from members make it possible for the university to enhance academic programs and build a distinguished faculty of scholars and scientists—faculty who contribute new knowledge and inspire generations of students.

Danforth Circle members make up less than 1% of donors who contribute to the Annual Fund, yet they contribute nearly 40% of Annual Fund dollars. This group of exceptional donors has played a key role in growing the Annual Fund to more than $10.6 million in 2022.

Benefits of membership

  • Danforth Circle members have access to all Eliot Society benefits.
  • They are invited to a special dinner in their honor, hosted by Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Stephanie S. Martin.
  • They may sponsor student scholarships in their own name or that of someone whom they wish to honor.
  • They may join Whittemore House, which offers fine dining on the Danforth Campus in a club atmosphere. They also may reserve the large and small dining rooms for wedding receptions, private parties, and other special events.
  • Their generosity to Washington University will be recognized in the Eliot Society’s annual Honor Roll of Donors, unless they wish to remain anonymous.