Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer will receive the largest gift in the institution’s 121-year history, 7,634 acres of farm real estate in neighboring White County valued at over $40 million.
Located on the land are 19 operational windmills, with an additional 13 to be constructed, for a total of 32 windmills that will operate within the White County-based Meadow Lake Wind Farm. Collectively, the 32 windmills, once operational, will make Saint Joseph’s College the largest private landowner with the most windmills east of the Mississippi River
The land will be given through the Juanita K. Waugh Revocable Living Trust. The deed of transfer contains a restriction that prohibits the sale of the farm real estate by the College and requires the establishment of a conservation easement that will be held and annually monitored by Wood-Land-Lakes (WLL) Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.
The purpose of the conservation easement is to protect environmentally important areas that are threatened by conversion and for promoting agricultural use, forestland protection, and other conservation opportunities. The purposes also include the protection of important agricultural or riparian areas, scenic, cultural, fish, wildlife and recreational resources, or other ecological values. These farms will be permanently restricted from development and subdivision, and maintain the rural character of the county..
Property taxes for the White County farm real estate will be paid by Saint Joseph’s College, and the College does not have intentions to request an exemption based on its own 501(c)3 not-for-profit status with the IRS.
David Bechman and Stan Wanner serve as Co-Trustees for the Juanita K. Waugh Revocable Living Trust, and Bechman will be retained as manager of the farm real estate.
Juanita Kious Waugh passed away on February 6, 2010. She attended Brookston schools, graduated from Tudor Hall High School in Indianapolis, and later attended Indiana University. She spent many years managing her farm in White County. She was a Fellow of Saint Joseph’s College and enjoyed her years of friendship with Fr. Charles Banet, C.PP.S. who served as the College’s president from 1965-1993. Waugh appreciated the College’s agrarian roots throughout its history, when the priests and brothers coordinated the farm work – with the help of lay people – that sustained the campus community. Today, the Rensselaer-based campus has 180 acres in active use by the College and 800 acres that are leased for farming. Over the years, Waugh also interacted professionally with SJC alumni who left a very favorable impression upon her regarding the high quality education provided by the College. Having considered many worthy charities/organizations as the beneficiary of her farm real estate, Waugh chose Saint Joseph’s College as the entity to preserve and protect the legacy of the farm real estate maintained by her family for over 100 years.
SJC President F. Dennis Riegelnegg commented, “This is an extraordinary gift for Saint Joseph’s College and we are both humbled by and grateful for Juanita’s generosity. Naming the College as beneficiary took many years of deliberation and we are also thankful for the wise counsel she sought.” The annual income generated from the farm real estate will provide scholarships to students in memory of Ms. Waugh. A gift such as this is one more step toward helping families make an SJC education both affordable and accessible in these challenging times. Riegelnegg continued, “When I met Juanita, it was apparent that I was in the company of a strong woman of great character. Helping Saint Joseph’s College students was her primary goal and these scholarships will be a fitting tribute to accomplish that goal.”
Saint Joseph’s College, named a “character-building college” by the Templeton Foundation and a “best Midwestern college” by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic, liberal arts college. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Ind., approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of over 1,000 students.