In a generous act of giving back, Tim Wilmott ’80 ’81G recently made a $5 million gift to support talented Lehigh students by establishing the Wilmott Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Wilmott was inspired to give by his own college experience. “I could not have afforded to go to Lehigh without the scholarships I received during my four years there,” he said. “Someone was generous enough to provide funding for me to receive substantial scholarships from Lehigh, so I came out with not a lot of debt and a fresh start to begin my career. I wanted to reciprocate with a similar type of scholarship.”

Wilmott is the retired CEO of Penn National Gaming (now Penn Entertainment) and serves on the board of Darden Restaurants, Inc. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Lehigh thanks to scholarships.

“Someone was generous enough to provide funding for me to receive substantial scholarships from Lehigh ... I wanted to reciprocate with a similar type of scholarship.”

“My education in science and the rigors of a STEM curriculum at Lehigh taught me to be a critical thinker, which applied to anything I did in life,” Wilmott said. “The social interactions I experienced at Lehigh made me able to engage and interact with people at all different levels of society, which helped me in my leadership roles running large casinos. It was an invaluable experience for me in how to treat people fairly and honestly and how to understand what motivates individuals.”

President Joseph J. Helble ’82 expressed his gratitude for the gift. “Tim Wilmott knows firsthand the value of scholarships. His generosity in giving back ensures that we can continue to help every generation of the most talented students become Lehigh graduates, leaders, and future makers.”

“The Wilmott Family Endowed Scholarship will help Lehigh attract talented students to our engineering program, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said Vice Provost for Admissions and Financial Aid Dan Warner. “We’ll be able to support them so they can take full advantage of all the opportunities available at Lehigh and go on to impact the future.”

From Lehigh to Big Gaming
Wilmott grew up in Bridgewater, New Jersey. He wanted to study math and science and was looking for a school not too close to home — but not too far, either. “Lehigh had a great engineering and science program — still does. When I got to campus for my visit during senior year in high school, it just felt right. I knew this was the place for me.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Wilmott received a fellowship to get his master’s in the same field. After graduation, he spent four years at IBM, first as an engineer and then in management. He left to earn his MBA at University of Pennsylvania. “I knew I didn’t want to be an investment banker or a consultant — I wanted to run a business. I was recruited at Penn by Harrah’s Entertainment, a Reno, Nevada-based casino company. Coming from New Jersey, I knew a little something about casinos and Atlantic City. At the time, gambling was only legal in Nevada and New Jersey, but I decided to take a chance and make a bet that it was going to be a growth industry.”

That bet paid off with a successful career at a growing company for Wilmott as gambling became legalized in 40 states. He worked his way up the operations ladder at Harrah’s, eventually becoming regional president and then COO. Harrah’s was sold in 2007, and Wilmott took the opportunity to relocate from Nevada to Princeton, New Jersey. He joined Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming, the third largest gaming company in the U.S., as president and COO in 2008. From 2013 until his retirement in 2020, he served as CEO for the company.

Funding the Future 
Wilmott created his scholarship to be awarded to public high school students with financial need from New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania who are accepted or enrolled in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Wilmott’s hope for the students awarded the scholarship is that “they enjoy their Lehigh experience, as I did, with a great deal of financial comfort, not burdened with debt. I hope they get that start to being independent young adults who realize they’re entirely accountable for their efforts and their results.”

“Our students will shape the future of our country and the world,” said Mark Erickson ’91G, interim vice president for development and alumni relations. “That’s what GO Beyond: The Campaign for Future Makers is all about. It’s about ensuring the brightest students regardless of income can attend Lehigh, supported by the Wilmott Family Endowed Scholarship, and become those future makers.”

Go Beyond: The Campaign for Future Makers

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