IPFW removes bridge name following failed payments

The former Willis Family Bridge crosses over Crescent Avenue and connects the university's campus to its student housing.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Indiana- University Purdue-University Fort Wayne (IPFW) has taken down a name on a bridge that crosses over Crescent Avenue. University officials said the local entrepreneur who the bridge is named after failed to make good on a $3 million pledge.

The Willis Family Bridge was built in 2003. The bridge connects the university’s campus with its student housing. At that time, its sponsor, Don Willis, had agreed to pay $3 million to be split evenly to pay for an endowed chair in the School of Business and Management Science, scholarships and also for general use.

However, in 2006, Willis stopped making payments, university officials told our partners at the News Sentinel. The university made several attempts to contact Willis about the status of future donations, but he never responded.

“We’re not actively pursuing [a new benefactor], but the bridge is available for naming,” IPFW director of advancement services Colleen Dixon told the News Sentinel.

The university didn’t disclose exactly how much Willis donated from 2003 to 2006.

Those interested in sponsoring the bridge should call IPFW at 260-481-4174.

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