The Danforth name is synonymous with exceptional dedication and leadership. In this spirit, the William H. Danforth Leadership Society recognizes donors whose lifetime giving totals $1 million or more.

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Kasey LucasSenior Associate Director of Donor Experiences
William Danforth Leadership Society logo

Donors who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the university play a distinctive role in Washington University’s story. In 2022-23, membership in the William H. Danforth Leadership Society totals 345.

These generous individuals ensure that the pioneering faculty, students, and staff at the heart of our university will continue to carry Dr. Danforth’s spirit of thoughtful and compassionate leadership into the future.

The legacy of William H. Danforth

During his tenure as chancellor, William Danforth oversaw significant improvements in undergraduate student retention, and he made it a priority to build a rapport with students.

William H. Danforth was born in St. Louis in 1926, the son of a business executive and the grandson of the founder of the world-famous Ralston Purina Company who was himself a graduate of the university’s Manual Training School and mechanical engineering program in the 19th century.

He graduated from St. Louis Country Day School and spent a brief time at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, before transferring to Princeton and graduating in 1947.

He graduated from Harvard Medical School and, following an internship at Barnes Hospital and two years as a Navy doctor during the Korean War, he returned to Washington University and never left. Read Chancellor Danforth’s full bio.