McDougal-Rigney gift establishes scholarship and endowed professorship in honor of Citadel graduate and internationally best-selling “Wheel of Time” author


James Rigney, perhaps better known by his pen name Robert Jordan, will be memorialized at The Citadel with an endowed professorship and scholarship in his name. His widow and former editor, Harriet McDougal-Rigney, has generously provided the gift in his honor — creating the endowed James O. Rigney Jr., ’74, Professorship in Electrical Engineering and the James O. Rigney Jr., ’74, Electrical Engineering Scholarship.

In 2022, McDougal-Rigney began working with The Citadel Foundation to establish two significant endowed gifts, worth a combined one million dollars, to The Citadel School of Engineering to create the endowed chair and scholarship, which will provide a substantial benefit to the college’s electrical engineering department. This gift will also help meet two objectives that are part of the college’s strategic plan, Our Mighty Citadel 2026.

“This gift is transformational to the department. The work of electrical and computer engineers impacts every aspect of modern society, and the need for principled, highly qualified graduates has never been higher,” said Mark McKinney, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Mrs. Rigney’s generous gift will help The Citadel attract and retain top faculty and students to help us meet this demand.”

The James O. Rigney Jr., ’74, Electrical Engineering Scholarship will help the college recruit and retain high-caliber engineering cadets and students by providing merit-based financial resources, with preference given to electrical engineering majors from the Lowcountry.

The recipient of the endowed James O. Rigney Jr., ’74, Professorship in Electrical Engineering will be a pivotal faculty appointment providing an additional source of funding to support the professor’s work and research in the field.

Rigney graduated from The Citadel as a veteran student in 1974 with a degree in physics after serving in Vietnam. His writing career began in 1977, with his first book in the renowned “Wheel of Time” series being published in 1990. Rigney’s ties with The Citadel continued, and the college awarded him an honorary doctorate of literature in 1999. His presence is still seen on campus — books from “The Wheel of Time” series are housed among the collections of the Daniel Library’s Rare Books Room, and books and memorabilia celebrating Rigney’s literary career are on public display in the library. Michael Livingston, Ph.D., an English professor at The Citadel and author of the recently published “Origins of The Wheel of Time,” a companion volume to Rigney’s bestselling series, was given Rigney’s old writing desk and chair, as well as some other personal items that can be seen in his office.

“My husband was immensely proud of the engineering education he received at The Citadel,” said McDougal-Rigney. These generous gifts offered in her husband’s memory will improve access and affordability for cadets and students interested in attending The Citadel, as well as help the college continue to retain and compensate talented faculty and staff.

The Citadel School of Engineering is ranked as one of the Top 25 Undergraduate Engineering programs and is one of the first five engineering programs established in the country.