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Williard A. Hanna '32

Williard A. Hanna '32

In March, The College of Wooster was pleased to announce a gift of $1 million from the estate of Marybelle B. Hanna. This bequest will endow a new chair in honor of her late husband, Willard A. Hanna, class of 1932, and be known as the Willard A. Hanna Chair in Southeast Asian Studies.

Born in Cross Creek, Pennsylvania, in 1911, Mr. Hanna spent much of his career working in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. Following graduation from The College of Wooster in 1932, he taught English in Shanghai and Hangchow, China, for four years, then returned to the U.S. to earn a master's degree in English literature from The Ohio State University and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and was assigned to the Japanese Language School in Boulder, Colorado, and then to the School of Military Government at Columbia University. He participated in the landing in Okinawa in 1945 as part of a U.S. Navy military government team and remained there until 1946 as a cultural relations officer. Upon leaving the navy and Okinawa, he joined the U.S. Department of State and worked in a variety of posts, including Manila, Jakarta, and Tokyo.

In 1954, he joined the American Universities Field Staff (AUFS), a consortium of 12 American colleges and universities that sponsored research in countries or regions that were not well represented in the curricula of the time. For each new assignment, Hanna would live for two years in a particular region, researching and writing about it, then return to the U.S. and spend a third year visiting and lecturing at the consortium's member campuses. Hanna's bases of operation during more than two decades with AUFS included Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Hong Kong. When he retired in 1976, and the Hannas moved to New Hampshire, it was the first time in 23 years of married life that they had lived in the U.S. Willard Hanna died in Hanover, New Hampshire, on October 5, 1993. Mrs. Hanna remained at their home in Hanover until her death on November 6, 2007.

Even though they were often a world away from Wooster, Willard and Marybelle Hanna stayed in touch. In 1992, they endowed a library fund to create and support the College's Asian Studies Collection and established a prize that was awarded to Wooster's most outstanding students in Asian Studies from 1995 to 2007. As an enduring tribute to her husband's love for Wooster and Southeast Asia, Mrs. Hanna provided a final and lasting gift to the College through her generous bequest.

Each year, Wooster is honored to receive bequests of all sizes from alumni and friends that support existing programs, create new opportunities, and ensure the financial strength of the College for generations to come.