Department of Mathematics and Philosophy

Mary Olive Woods History

Mary Olive Woods was born in Littleton township on April 23rd, 1871 and died in Macomb, IL at the age of 85. Following a complicated twenty-nine year court case a portion of her estate was given to Western Illinois University. The complications with Woods’ will stemmed from the fact that she and her husband Orel Woods never had children and that her original will stipulated the inheritance should go to "the U.S. government if it ever became a theocracy under one Protestant God." However, a 1959 court decision found Woods sound of mind but noted that a theocratic government was unlikely in the United States. In 1985 a McDonough County Circuit judge ruled that 75% of the trust funds would go to the Littleton Baptist Church while the remaining 25% would go to the Western Illinois University Foundation, a fund-raising branch of the University.

Objectives of Mary Olive Woods (MOW) Trust

The primary objectives of Mary Olive Woods Trust are to provide, under the auspices of the Departments of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Mathematics and Philosophy, support for the education of students in the departments and for lectures.

The Departments of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Mathematics and Philosophy are fortunate to have the MOW Trust to support scholarships and an annual lecture. The MOW Trust has supported an eclectic and impressive group of scholars since 1987. Past MOW guest speakers include: Ninian Smart, Martin E. Marty, Michael Ruse, Wendy Doniger, Alvin Plantinga, and Peter van Inwagen. Every Fall a campus-wide lecture is given followed the next morning by a smaller discussion and question/answer session open to interested students and faculty.

MOW Scholarships

More information about the Mary Olive Woods Scholarships

MOW Lecture

Each fall WIU hosts the Mary Olive Wood Lecture. Past distinguished lecturers have come from as widespread institutions as UC-Santa Barbara to Notre Dame to Duke University. Typically, every other year is a philosophy lecture and every other year is a religious studies lecture. Use the following links for more details.

Upcoming Mary Olive Woods Lecture

Past Mary Olive Woods Lectures