Feature Stories Campus Events

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Tyler Lenczuk '14Center: Tyler Lenczuk ’14, Richard Duchossois ’44 and Danielle Galanti Lenczuk are flanked by a group of W&L alums.

“I really hope this scholarship helps someone get out of W&L what I did. I hope they can pour their heart and soul into their experience without being concerned with the financial burden so many people have.”
— Tyler Lenczuk ’14

When Tyler Lenczuk ’08 married Danielle Galanti in July 2014, they were given a gift like no other — a named scholarship fund to benefit future Washington and Lee students with financial need. The Office of Financial Aid will match the first Tyler R. and Danielle G. Lenczuk Scholarship recipient this year.

A gift from Lenczuk’s grandfather, Richard L. Duchossois ’44 and his wife Judi, the scholarship honors a strong bond between a supportive family and W&L. “I didn’t have a full appreciation of W&L and my grandfather’s love for it until I went there,” Lenczuk said. “The quality and character of the people make it a place where you want to know everybody. W&L is not an institution — it’s really a community. There is a level of comradery that is really unprecedented.”

The unique wedding gift touched the newlyweds and gave them a personal legacy at W&L. While the gift itself was a nice surprise, the fact that it was not traditional was nothing new to Lenczuk. “My grandfather stopped giving gifts in the traditional sense because he wanted the act to mean something special in our lives,” he said. “This was a creative way to give a wedding gift; it certainly beat getting a serving tray we’re never going to use,” he joked.

Duchossois was instrumental in recruiting Lenczuk for W&L. Having gone to a large high school in the Midwest, he never imagined himself attending a small college in Virginia. However, after a special trip with his grandfather, which included attending a lacrosse game as well as stopping by Duchossois’ dorm room in Graham Lees, he was sold. Lenczuk said he got goosebumps as he stood outside his grandfather’s room. “My grandfather relayed to me that being well-rounded with a liberal arts education was important, and I couldn’t agree more,” he said. Becoming an alumnus himself further strengthened the bond between the two.

Now, Lenczuk works for the family business, The Chamberlain Group, on the emerging business team, to identify and develop new opportunities beyond the core business. The company designs and engineers access-controlled entry systems, such as garage door openers and gate operators. He worked his way up in the company after spending a few years working in commercial real estate.

Lenczuk cherished his time at W&L and credits the university with reinforcing the importance of holding oneself to a high standard. “I really hope this scholarship helps someone get out of W&L what I did. I hope they can pour their heart and soul into their experience without being concerned with the financial burden so many people have,” he said. “This gift is so thoughtful because it’s about helping someone else build their future.”


Class of ’94 Inspired to Name Office of Inclusion and Engagement The 25th reunion committee chose to name the office, with a fundraising goal of $1 million, to help all W&L students thrive.

Members of the Class of 1994 reunion committee

“We want all students to get the full W&L experience and to leave as global citizens. If our gift can help to accelerate the great strides W&L is making in this area, it will be a wonderful legacy for our class.”

~Todd Ezrine ’94

“I am enjoying reliving that moment,” said 25th reunion committee co-chair Betsy Pakenas ’94. “It was one of less than a handful of times when I have felt that there was some shift, some shared experience that could be the catalyst for something really powerful — for something that will make a difference.” Pakenas was describing the events that led her and the rest of the 25th reunion committee to select naming the Office of Inclusion and Engagement with a fundraising goal of $1 million as its reunion class project.

In September, the 25th reunion committee met on campus to plan the upcoming celebration. Among the university’s priorities presented as options for the class project were the Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE), scholarship support or naming the dean of career and professional development position. After hearing a presentation from President Will Dudley on the progress Washington and Lee has made in attracting students from a wide range of backgrounds, a completely organic conversation arose when committee member Maurice “Moe” Cole ’94 posed the question: “What is W&L doing to enhance and enrich the experience of all students in an inclusive and deliberate way?”

Cole shared that as a student of color, he felt marginalized and discriminated against on campus and in the Lexington community during his time at W&L. He described his relationship with the university as complicated and wanted to give a voice to others who may have felt the same way but had not had a chance to speak up about their experiences. The committee members were inspired to select a project that would directly address issues such as those Cole faced, allowing all students to thrive at W&L.

“I never imagined that any definitive action would arise from my musings,” Cole said. “It was one of the most human things I have experienced — not only did my classmates hear that although we all shared an experience, it manifested differently for some than others — they came together and said ‘How can we help? What can we do to enhance this shared space and enrich the W&L experience for all students?’” After the committee had articulated its interest, Tamara Futrell, dean for diversity, inclusion and engagement, spoke to the group about services offered through her office, as well as the next steps as a strategic-planning priority.

Futrell explained that the Office of Inclusion and Engagement serves as a resource for the entire campus community, encouraging everyone to connect with one another across varied backgrounds. The university plans to renovate the second floor of Elrod Commons so that the Office of Inclusion and Engagement can offer a centralized location at the heart of campus for all its services. Many student resources, such as the lending library and food pantry, lack dedicated space. The Class of 1994 gift will support current and future programming, such as the successful diversity and community-building education series for first-year students. It will also accommodate future staffing needs to best serve students.

The university’s mission encompasses preparing students for a global and diverse society, and limited diversity on campus is a challenge to achieving this objective. Through persistent dedication to building the highest quality educational community, W&L is working hard to ensure the most talented students from all backgrounds feel welcome and at home on campus. Futrell has worked for W&L for 16 years and noted that the demographics have changed considerably during that time and even more so since the Class of 1994 graduated. “This gift will allow us to do even more. We want all students at W&L to have equal opportunity to thrive here,” she said.

Todd Ezrine ’94, a 25th reunion committee member, acknowledged the bravery it took for Cole to speak up, and he helped facilitate a productive discussion about the class project during the committee meeting. “We want all students to get the full W&L experience and to leave as global citizens. If our gift can help to accelerate the great strides W&L is making in this area, it will be a wonderful legacy for our class,” he said.

Cole, like many of his classmates, is still overwhelmed by the turn of events. “If I played any part in this magnificent display of humanity and commitment to equity that is steeped in our love for our alma mater, I am humbled and ready to work,” he said.


Parents and Family Weekend 2018 Creates Shared Experiences

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Washington and Lee held Parents and Family Weekend Sept. 28–29, 2018, welcoming more than 800 families (close to 3,000 people) to campus for the event. Parents and Family Weekend offers an opportunity for students to connect on campus with their parents and family members, sharing their full college experience by immersing them in W&L’s unique culture. Families attend sporting events, concerts, art exhibits, and even classes together. This year, the History of W&L course was a popular choice, and professors shared that all parents in attendance were enthusiastic participants.

Students and their families also had the opportunity to participate in a social media contest by following the university’s Annual Fund on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Families who followed any of these accounts and posted a picture of themselves on campus were entered to win a $25 gift card to downtown Lexington café Pronto. Kitanna Hiromasa ’19 and her parents, Shannon and James, were the lucky winners.

Parents and Family Weekend also provides a perfect occasion for leadership parent donors and prospects to come together to build connections, as well as participate in gatherings with the president and other university officials. The Parents Leadership Council and the PLC Steering Committee are groups of parents who generously support the Parents Fund as well as work to build relationships among W&L families, host regional events for student and parents, and welcome new families each summer. Parents Fund Chairs Kamela and Steve Krouskos P’16, ’17, ’21 were on campus for the Parents Leadership Council events to welcome new and returning members. The council has 186 members and welcomed 38 new members who have a student in the Class of 2022. The PLC Steering Committee has 43 members to date, and more than 60 percent were on campus for the weekend festivities.

“Members of The President’s Society, Parents Leadership Council and PLC Steering Committee all contribute significantly to the Parents Fund and have helped us achieve record-setting results for seven years running,” said Ronni Gardner, director of parent giving. In 2017-18, donors contributed $1,812,199 to the Parents Fund. This year’s goal is $1.85 million. The Parents Fund is an important component of W&L’s Annual Fund, which supports the university’s top priorities each year.

W&L will welcome members of the Parents Leadership Council back to campus for the Parents Leadership Council Spring Weekend March 29 – 30, 2019.

All gifts to the Parents Fund make a difference for every W&L student. To make your gift, visit support.wlu.edu/giveonline.


Phonathon Builds Connections at W&L

W&L Phonathon teamMeet W&L’s Phonathon callers.

Washington and Lee’s Phonathon began calling alumni, parents and friends of the university this week. The Phonathon team consists of W&L students who are passionate about encouraging annual support for their university as well as making connections with the broader community.

Plan to pick up the phone to speak with one of our student callers. They are eager to talk to you! Watch the short video about our Phonathon team to find out who’s on the other end of the line here at W&L.


2017 Five-Star Festival Celebrates Class Achievements

The Class of 1962 Faculty Fellows

Washington and Lee University celebrated the classes of 1962 and 1957 during the Five-Star Festival November 2 – 4, 2017. The Five-Star Festival is a special campus reunion for W&L alumni who graduated more than 50 years ago. In honor of its 55th reunion, the Class of 1962 met recipients of The Class of 1962 Faculty Fellows Fund, an endowment that the class established in 1987 during its 25th reunion. The fund supports important undergraduate faculty research and ongoing scholarship. The Faculty Fellows and members of the class gathered at the Alumni House for dinner. Faculty Fellows provided a brief overview of their research.

To learn more about the current Faculty Fellows and their research, visit the Class of 1962 Faculty Fellows web page.

The Five-Star banquet recognized outstanding class contributions. The Class of 1957, which was celebrating its 60th reunion, received the distinguished Richmond Trophy in honor of having the highest percentage of classmates contributing to the Annual Fund among the Five-Star classes. Their class participation rate was an impressive 88 percent. Class Agents Bill Russell, Warren Welsh, and Bill Kaufmann attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of their class.

Other Five-Star classes also received recognition during the festival. The Class of 1953 was awarded the Washington Trophy for raising the most money of the Five-Star classes for the 2016-17 Annual Fund. The Class of 1955 received the McCutcheon Trophy in recognition of having the highest percentage of class members in the loyal donor society, the 1749 Circle. The Class of 1959 snagged the Beirer Trophy for having the highest percentage of members in W&L’s leadership donor group, The President’s Society.


Classes Gearing Up for Alumni Weekend 2018 For the Classes Ending in 3 and 8

As we near the end of 2017, Washington and Lee reunion classes are preparing not only for a festive and memorable Alumni Weekend, but also for making a significant impact on current students. Alumni Weekend 2018 is April 26–29 and will include special reunion events for members of the 15th through 50th classes with graduation years ending in 3 and 8. Reunion class co-chairs and their fellow committee members encourage reunion participation and giving. Strengthening relationships among classmates and with W&L is a top priority.

Many consider reconnecting with their classmates a primary draw of Alumni Weekend. Typically, more than 500 alumni return to campus to celebrate reunions each spring. In the last two years alumni have traveled from at least 40 states, including Hawaii, and a number of foreign countries. In 2008, W&L established the Reunion Traveller Award to recognize the alumna or alumnus who traveled the farthest to attend. Last year, Paul Cheever of New South Wales, Australia, became the first alumnus to win the award two times. He made the 10,000 mile journey to Lexington for his 40th and 45th reunions.

“For our 45th reunion, my co-chair, Lat Purser, and I agreed that our primary goal is to get as many classmates as possible back to Lexington for our reunion,” said Class of 1973 co-chair Don Eavenson. “We have planned a full slate of activities, including a cocktail party before the Opening Assembly, a class dinner at Belfield (former home of Dean Gilliam) with a special guest, and a class gathering next to Wilson Field for the men’s lacrosse game. The best reason to come back for our reunion is to reconnect with classmates and old friends. It is sure to be a fun time.”

Another essential part of reunion committee work is fundraising to support W&L. The tradition of organized reunion gift campaigns began at W&L in 1986, when the classes of 1936 and 1961 were celebrating their 50th and 25th reunions. Today, gifts and payments made on reunion pledges are essential to W&L, accounting for about 65 percent of the total that undergraduate alumni give each year. All of that giving, with the exception of the 25th and 50th reunion class projects, supports the Annual Fund.

Alumni Weekend is also a prime time for donors to see firsthand the difference that their gifts make to the university. Scholarship donors have an opportunity to connect with student recipients, and Annual Fund donors see improved buildings, enhanced technology and classroom resources, and the high caliber of students on campus today. “The improvements and developments on campus since the Class of 2003 graduated are almost too numerous to list,” said Class of 2003 co-chair Wynne Sharpe. “If alumni have not been back to Lexington in the last few years, they will just be astounded and incredibly proud of the school’s improved physical plant. However, the more exciting things they may discover during their trip back will be the pronounced energy on campus and apparent quality and depth of the student body.”

Participation in reunion giving is a key part of the Annual Fund’s success each year, which currently provides 8 percent of the university’s operating budget and reduces educational costs for every student by nearly $5,000. But giving during reunion isn’t just about the numbers — it is an emotional experience unique to the donor, with the purpose of reconnecting with the past to impact the future.

“Passionately supporting W&L both financially and with my time feels like the only appropriate way to give back to a place that has so greatly enriched my own life,” Sharpe said. “I believe W&L is a real force for good in this world. The lessons of honor, civility and integrity our university teaches its students has helped to carry generations through our complex and ever-evolving society. The world needs places like W&L, and donating to the Annual Fund is a meaningful way to ensure the values and lessons we all learned while in Lexington will be secure for current and future generations.”

If you are in a reunion year and have questions, feel free to contact one of your class co-chairs or contact the Office of Annual Giving at 540-458-8420.

To make a reunion gift online, visit www.wlu.edu/support. Reunion pledges can be made online at support.wlu.edu/reunionpledge.

Reunion Co-Chairs for 2017-18

Class of 1968 (50th Reunion)
Carl Chambers and Jim Dawson

Class of 1973 (45th Reunion)
Don Eavenson and Lat Purser

Class of 1978 (40th Reunion)
Mark Pennell and Kevin Lamb

Class of 1983 (35th Reunion)
Bert Ponder and Mike Lewers

Class of 1988(30th Reunion)
Tommy McBride and Reese Lanier

Class of 1993 (25th Reunion)
Chris Boggs and Susan Mosley George

Class of 1998 (20th Reunion)
Ericka Shapard Croft and Andrew Fullam

Class of 2003(15th Reunion)
Jeanne Upchurch de Laureal and Wynne Sharpe

Class of 2008 (10th Reunion)
Anne Russell Bazzel and Peter Harbilas

Class of 2013 (5th Reunion)
Ainsley Daigle and Steele Burrow


Donors’ Vision for Global Learning Comes to Life Recently faculty members shared about how the Center is helping students engage with the world beyond Lexington in a real and immediate way.

The Ruscio Center for Global Learning has brought to life the vision of the many donors and advocates who wanted to see global learning elevated at W&L. Recently faculty members who are working and teaching in W&L’s new Ruscio Center for Global Learning shared about how the facility is helping students to engage with the world beyond Lexington in a real and immediate way.

It takes a village to build a Center for Global Learning

The Ruscio Center for Global Learning was made possible by generous donors as part of W&L’s Honor Our Past, Build Our Future campaign, which concluded in 2015. The Center was dedicated on May 13, 2016, and in October 2016 was named by the Board of Trustees in honor of Kenneth P. Ruscio, the university’s 26th president. Leadership donors to the Center for Global Learning are recognized on a wall in the lobby of the Center.

Total project cost: $13.5 million

Contributed by donors: $11.5 million

Groundbreaking: Summer 2014

Dedication: May 13, 2016

Number of leadership donors recognized in the building: 53

Class reunion gifts for the Center’s construction: Class of 1989’s 25th reunion gift, Class of 1964’s 50th reunion gift


Generating Retirement Income through the Charitable Remainder Unitrust Robert Swinarton ’50 recalls his years at W&L and shares about giving back with a charitable remainder unitrust.

Robert Swinarton '50 and his late wife, Roddy.Robert Swinarton ’50 and his late wife, Roddy

Robert Swinarton ’50 served in the Army Air Force during World War II and attended W&L on the G.I. Bill. He and his wife, Roddy, were married during the summer before his senior year at W&L. They made it a priority to give back to W&L in gratitude for all that the university has meant to them over the course of their lives.

The environment at W&L was transformative in the sense that everything you did was governed by the Honor System. You were your own disciplinarian. I had never experienced anything like this, and it made an impact that stayed with me throughout my business and personal life. I attribute my success in business to this.

In addition to the Honor System, we had a dress code and a speaking tradition. The latter required you to acknowledge everyone you crossed paths with while on campus. The dress code meant you had to wear a coat and tie whenever you went out, except if you were dressed for sports. This was our environment, but equally as impressive were our relationships in classes and with faculty. In the business school, classes were small, seldom over 10 students, and your professor was not only your teacher but your friend. The academic life was most inspiring because of the faculty.

W&L was not only my platform for entering business life but also became the start of our married life. Because it was after the war and many students were older, W&L had plenty of housing for married students. My wife, Roddy, and I were married before I commenced my senior year, living in an army prefab along with 32 other veterans. It could not have provided a better start to married life. Graduation was in 1950, the same year I started at Dean Witter & Co, where I worked until my retirement in 1980, starting as a sales trainee and ending as vice chairman of the board of the second largest securities firm.

Obviously all of the above made a tremendous impression on me and made me feel indebted to the school for what it had provided to me. In 1992, I decided I wanted to give back something for what I had been given. Roddy and I created two 6 percent charitable remainder unitrusts, one to benefit Roddy for her lifetime and the other to benefit me for my lifetime. We delivered appreciated securities to the trusts and received an immediate charitable deduction which was a write off against our income. These securities would have represented a large capital gain, but we had no capital gains tax to pay because the money was going to a charity.

Each trust pays 6 percent of its Dec. 31 market value each year for as long as we live, and the school receives no money until both of us are deceased. As Roddy passed away in November 2016, her charitable remainder unitrust provided a $165,421 unrestricted gift to Washington and Lee University; mine is still ongoing, providing me retirement income.

It was a good feeling to be able to give back. The only reason I was even able to go to college was because of the G.I. Bill, right after World War II, so I am indebted all around.

To learn more about the charitable remainder unitrust or to talk with W&L about your estate plans, contact W&L’s office of gift planning at 540-458-8902.


PLC Spring Weekend More Popular Than Ever Seventy-two families attended the on-campus weekend for leadership supporters of the Parents Fund

One sign that the 2017 PLC Spring Weekend was a smash hit: parents concluded the weekend asking “How soon can we book our hotel rooms for next year?”

The two-day event, held March 31 – April 1, is a special on-campus weekend for members of the Parents Leadership Council (PLC), who contribute leadership gifts to W&L’s Parents Fund. Missy Witherow, senior director of development for parent giving, reported that attendees were particularly excited for their first opportunity to meet and interact with President Dudley.

During his keynote address on Saturday morning, Dudley shared vignettes from his first few months on campus and discussed W&L’s upcoming strategic planning process, which he had announced to the campus community just days earlier. In what is emerging as his signature style, Dudley conducted much of his presentation in Q&A format and appeared relaxed while taking questions from the audience.

PLC members toured the Ruscio Center for Global Learning.PLC members toured the Kenneth P. Ruscio Center for Global Learning during the PLC Spring Weekend.

Other highlights of the weekend included student-led tours of W&L’s new Kenneth P. Ruscio Center for Global Learning, which opened at the tail end of the last school year. PLC members saw students and faculty in action in the center’s famously high-tech, interactive classroom spaces. A Friday afternoon student-faculty panel titled “Student Opportunities: Research, Internships, Projects” was particularly useful for parents of first-year students, as presenters offered insights on topics such as how to make the best use of career development and when to start pursuing summer research.

One consistent draw of the PLC Spring Weekend is the opportunity for parents to interact with senior members of W&L’s administration. The Saturday morning panel, titled “The Washington and Lee Experience: Questions with the Senior Administration” did not disappoint. Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs, walked parents through the university’s response to a recent off-campus fire. Sally Richmond, vice president for admissions and financial aid fielded questions, such as “What is the role of special talents in the admissions process?”

After the panel discussion, Tres Mullis, executive director of development, and Jan Hathorn, director of athletics, presented artists renderings of the new indoor athletics and recreation facility, for which fundraising is ongoing, and discussed details of the project. At the end of the weekend, one of the couples in attendance committed the first major gift from a PLC family for the facility.

For more information about the PLC or parent giving please contact Missy Witherow, senior director of development for parent giving.


The Big Gift W&L’s 25th and 50th reunion classes consider their legacies as the milestone weekend approaches.

“What makes the 25th and 50th reunion gifts special is the opportunity for the classes to decide what their collective legacy is going to be to W&L,” says Jessica Cohen, W&L’s 25th reunion gift officer, who has overseen the 25th reunion gift campaign since 2006. She’s right — each class goes through a yearlong process of identifying and building their legacy.

Reunion celebration under the tent on Cannan GreenAlumni weekend will be held May 11-14, 2017.

The tradition of organized reunion gift campaigns began at W&L in 1986, when the classes of 1936 and 1961 were celebrating their 50th and 25th reunions. Today, gifts and payments made on reunion pledges are essential to W&L, accounting for about 65 percent of the total that undergraduate alumni give each year. Much of that giving supports the Annual Fund.

Gifts that alumni make in their 25th and 50th reunions, however, are different in that the classes decide on an area outside of the Annual Fund that they will focus on collectively. That’s where the legacy comes into play. These large reunion gifts often are instrumental in seeing a new building built or an endowment named.

This year, for the first time in at least a decade, both classes in the big reunion years — Class of 1992 and Class of 1967 — will be focusing their class gifts on students. It’s not only the gift area that brings character to the class gifts, though. The classes themselves, with their distinct personalities and different stages of life, always make the big reunions and the fundraising that surrounds them exciting.

Bob Priddy ’67, co-chair of the 50th Reunion Committee, was excited and somewhat surprised at the level of enthusiasm generated when a committee of class members met on campus in November 2016 to discuss their gift. Classmates, some of whom had been only acquaintances in college, became energized reminiscing with each other about W&L and what the school had done for them.

“As we discussed what the university and its students need and how we could make a difference, it became clear that offering scholarship support is a major need for students,” says Priddy. The cause is personal for this particular class. “Many of us came to W&L from public schools,” says co-chair Mac Holladay ’67. “Our families went the extra mile to see that we got the very best education. While W&L was all white and all male in 1963, we did represent a wide spectrum of socio-economic realities. When we came together 25 years ago, there was clear consensus that we wanted to do what we could to see that young men and women were given a similar chance to enjoy the privilege of attending W&L.” At their 25th reunion, the class created the Class of 1967 Scholarship. Now they intend to add $1 million to the scholarship in honor of their 50th reunion. If they succeed, theirs will be the largest class-funded scholarship at W&L today.

Photo of students participating in mock interviews with alumni in W&L dining hall.Students participate in mock interviews on campus with alumni. To be competitive, they must have real-world experience upon graduation, says Caroline Wight Donaldson ’92.

Similarly, the Class of 1992 25th Reunion Committee thought hard about a number of different areas before deciding on a student-focused gift. They created the Class of 1992 Summer Opportunities Fund, with a $500,000 goal. It will support students in summer pursuits that further their academic and professional interests. “The world has changed a lot since our time in Lexington,” comments co-chair Caroline Wight Donaldson ’92. “Real-world experience is no longer a ‘nice to have’ when finding your first job after college — it’s a requirement.” Like their fellow alumni from 1967, the Class of 1992 leaders felt it was important to support students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford these experiences. “We want students to find summer opportunities that further their academic and professional interests, without worrying about how they will cover their expenses,” says Donaldson.

While the classes in the two big reunions have similarities in the student focus of their reunion gifts, like all the 25th and 50th reunion classes before them, their journey leading up to Alumni Weekend is very different.

The 25th reunion is a high-energy, focused fundraising effort. The finish line — Alumni Weekend — creates a sense of urgency; typically 45 percent of the reunion gift is committed in the eight weeks preceding the big weekend. During an assembly in Lee Chapel on Saturday morning, the reunion co-chairs for each class present their gifts to the president. This can make for an intense final week; competitive donors have been known to up their pledges in the final days in order to hit the goal or break a record.

Although reunions are by nature backward-looking, the 25th reunion has a way of propelling each class forward in their relationship with W&L. Donaldson hopes that beyond the fun and reconnecting nature of the 25th reunion, it also will cause the class to “remember how much we took away from our time in Lexington — and to collectively recommit to W&L for the next 25 years and beyond.”

Co-chair Wali Bacdayan ’92 points out that though the class graduated in an era before the proliferation of communication technology, their gift speaks directly to the very different future that today’s and tomorrow’s W&L students must navigate. “The career and academic opportunities that I see students pursuing today seem far more impressive and unique than anything I can remember was available when I was at W&L,” he says. Support for summer opportunities is a need that didn’t exist in 1992, and the class is proud to meet it. “The impact of our gift will be personal and direct for individual students, across what we hope will be many classes to come,” continues Bacdayan.

If the 25th reunion is a lively salsa, the 50th reunion is a long waltz. “Many alumni start thinking about their 50th reunion as soon as the 45th passes,” says Ronni Gardner, the longtime W&L development officer who staffs the 50th reunion. W&L follows the typical practice of beginning to count gifts toward the 50th reunion in the five years leading up to it. “Sometimes it makes financial sense for the donor to make their gift before their 50th reunion year. We always want to be conscious of what is best for the donor, so we don’t ask them to delay their gift just because they want it to count in celebration of their 50th reunion.”

Many alumni approaching their 50th reunion have started individual scholarships or developed their own philanthropic passions at the university. For this reason, the 50th reunion class’s overall gift, in addition to including gifts to the Annual Fund and to a chosen project, usually includes a high ratio of gifts that classmates choose to make to other areas of campus. Planned gifts play a starring role, on average accounting for 47 percent of the 50th reunion gift. These can be personal and complex gifts, worked out between the donor and the university individually, sometimes over years.

This year’s 50th reunion class is unusual in that a high percentage of its members are the steady, consistent supporters that college administrators dream of. For the past decade they have swept W&L’s awards for the class with the highest percentage of members participating in the Annual Fund. Their participation rate has been known to top out at more than 80 percent. (By comparison, W&L’s overall alumni participation rate — among the highest of any college or university in the nation— claims 54.7 percent as its highest point ever.)

Picture of a large group of 50th reunionists walking on the front lawn at W&L.Many alumni approaching their 50th reunion have started individual scholarships or developed their own philanthropic passions at the university.

“Though many in our class may not have the resources for large annual gifts, we have been consistent in supporting the Annual Fund,” says Priddy, who has served as longtime class agent. That consistency is one reason the fundraising prognosis for their class scholarship is encouraging, for modest but consistent annual donors become stars in the planned giving arena. “We have learned how some can make significant gifts way beyond what we may have thought possible, and this will help the endowment continue to grow,” says Priddy.

While all reunions are nostalgic and reflective, the interplay of past and present surrounding the 50th reunion is perhaps sharpest. The perspective of 50th reunionists is a reminder of how small each one of us is, and yet how important our actions are. “In so many ways the Class of 1967 was innocent and protected when we came to W&L,” says Holladay. “We were both insulated and isolated in Lexington during those years. Many of us went on to military service immediately after graduation and saw a world we never knew existed. The global reality came quickly to us, and now it is a part of everyone’s life. This country needs committed and well-educated citizens, and our class believes that in some small way we can help one student at a time.”

In the end, that’s a fine legacy to leave.

The 25th & 50th Reunion Gifts

Chronology of the 25th Reunion Gift

1986: The Class of 1961 makes the first 25th reunion gift to W&L.

1990: The Class of 1965 makes a 25th reunion gift of $211,706 (the earliest 25th reunion gift for which W&L has intact records.)

1998: The Class of 1973 surpasses the $1 million mark with their 25th reunion gift.

2013: The Class of 1988 surpasses the $2 million mark with their 25th reunion gift.

2014: The Class of 1989 sets a record for the all-time largest 25th reunion gift of $2,250,000.


This Year’s 25th Reunion Gift
Class of 1992

Total Reunion Gift Goal:
$1.81 million. This includes:

  • $500,000 for the Annual Fund
  • $500,000 for the Class of 1992 Summer Opportunities Fund
  • Gifts to other areas of the university.

Co-chairs:
Wali Bacdayan ’92
Caroline Wight Donaldson ’92

The last five 25th reunion classes have each made gifts of at least $1.5 million. If the Class of 1992 hits its goal, it will take the fourth-largest gift record away from the Class of 1991.

How to Give:
25th reunion pledges can be made online at support.wlu.edu/25threunionpledge


Chronology of the 50th Reunion Gift

1979: The Class of 1929 makes the first recorded 50th reunion gift to establish a class scholarship. The class goal was $50,000.

1986: The Class of 1936 formally begins the 50th reunion gift tradition at W&L with a $350,000 gift.

1988: The Class of 1938 surpasses the $1 million mark with their 50th reunion gift.

1990: The Class of 1940 surpasses the $2 million mark with their 50th reunion gift.

2014: The Class of 1964 sets a record for the all-time largest 50th reunion gift of $8,828,845.


This Year’s 50th Reunion Gift
Class of 1967

Total Reunion Gift Goal:
$1.16 million. This includes:

  • $1 million for the Class of 1967 Scholarship
  • $160,000 for the Annual Fund

Co-chairs:
Mac Holladay ’67
Bob Priddy ’67

Record to Set:
If the Class of 1967 reaches its $1 million goal for its scholarship, it will have the largest class scholarship at W&L.

The class is well-poised to have the third largest 50th reunion gift total ever.

How to Give:
50th reunion pledges can be made online at http://support.wlu.edu/reunionpledge