2017 Five-Star Festival Celebrates Class Achievements
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.)
“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.
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
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
The Art of Philanthropy Eileen Small ’15 Supports Printmaking at W&L with an Endowed Fund
Every once in a while someone comes along who reminds us that philanthropy is both profoundly creative and simpler than we think. For Eileen Small ’15, being a philanthropist is as simple as taking the ideas you have for how things could be better and doing something about them. But even before that was her philanthropic strategy, it was a life approach.
At W&L, Eileen was one of those students who embodied the growth of arts that has occurred on campus over the last few decades. She double majored in theater and studio art and minored in dance. Her undergraduate career included both acting and production roles in the prestigious Bentley musicals, as well as off-campus experiences at the Moscow Art Theater School and Rhode Island School of Design. During her junior year she founded (540) Productions and began producing musical theater in Rockbridge County.
Despite her impressive resume, Eileen’s own narrative of her W&L experience is notably down to earth. For her, college progressed by getting an idea, trying it and then pushing it further — or if it failed, taking it in a different direction. The humble printmaking enclave within the art department was where that took place.
“After the first woodcut I ever made, I said ‘I’m never doing that again!’” Eileen laughs. “It’s so hard!” But, the medium grew on her. Creating woodcuts was tedious, but the immediacy of the resulting print was gratifying. Woodcuts became a way for Eileen to conjure a fanciful vision of the industrial structures of her youth in west Texas, where both her parents worked in the petroleum industry and where wind energy farms, power plants and the mechanical structures of the oil and gas industry were ubiquitous in the landscape.
“At first, my vision dictated the medium of woodcut, but then I started getting into it,” says Eileen. Art instructor Leigh Ann Beavers was key to Eileen’s maturation as a printmaker. “The way Leigh Ann coaches is great. Once you work on a block she says it’s great, but then she pushes you to think outside the box. You would think it was finished, but it was just the jumping off place.” In her senior year, Eileen made a gigantic woodcut that she worked on for four months.
Although fine arts have come a long way at W&L in recent years, studio art is still a fairly small department. Eileen worked in the art studio with the same small group of art majors for four years. In their senior year, five of them learned about the Southern Graphics Council International Conference — a week-long gathering of printmakers being held that year in Knoxville, Tennessee. While some other departments at W&L have dedicated funds for sending students to conferences, the art department did not.
With the guidance of Professor Beavers, Eileen and her classmates held art sales and sold Christmas and greeting cards to raise funds. When they got there, it was an “earth shattering experience” to spend an entire week with working artists, said Eileen. “Before that conference, I hadn’t met people doing that kind of work outside of W&L.” The conference provided an overview of the world of modern printmaking, with presentations and demonstrations by artists from all over the world. “It was amazing to see the work that people are doing right now, and see the ways in which it was all moving in the same direction, and then to think about how our work could be moving in that direction too.”
Today, Eileen’s professional focus has gravitated to the performing arts. During a summer internship with the Broadway-based Telsey + Company casting firm, she fell in love with the art of casting for theatrical productions. “It’s like painting a picture, but with people,” Eileen says. Now she is focused on casting for television and film with Arvold Casting, based in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Although she is not professionally immersed in printmaking, the learning experience Eileen had with printmaking at W&L stayed with her. “I had those pre-professional experiences in theater at W&L — but there wasn’t anything set up like that in art, especially printmaking. I didn’t want other art students to have to work as hard for things necessary for their careers — the types of things other departments have the means to do.”
“I had those pre-professional experiences in theater at W&L — but there wasn’t anything set up like that in art, especially printmaking. I didn’t want other art students to have to work as hard for things necessary for their careers — the types of things other departments have the means to do.”
Eileen Small ’15
Eileen sat down with her dad about a year ago and they began talking about what could be done. The Small family has a strong philanthropic streak and Eileen’s parents, Jamie ’81 and Alison Small, have supported causes at W&L as diverse as creating a first-year seminar class to providing bikes for students to have a sustainable form of transportation around Lexington.
Eileen’s conversation with her dad resulted in a creative, philanthropic solution to a problem. The Eileen A. Small Endowment for Printmaking was created at W&L in October of 2016. Eileen’s gift represents W&L’s first dedicated endowment for printmaking. The endowment will support printmaking students in pre-professional experiences that will bring them into contact with practicing artists. For example, the endowment could send art students to professional conferences and to visit special exhibits or artists’ studios.
Like her parents, Eileen’s philanthropy is passionate and hands-on. “This is what I know and what I am excited about,” she says. “I know the department head really well who manages the fund, and I’m still in touch with some of the students there.” But at some point, she realizes those individuals will move on, and others will take their place. Her goal is to stay in touch with the department over time and continue working with the next head on how her endowment can continue to benefit printmaking students. As she speaks about the future, her voice holds both confidence and curiosity. “I hope to grow the endowment. I’m excited to see what it will turn into. I would love for students to be able to do even more with it — whole summer experiences or going abroad.”
After all, this is just the jumping off place.
Roy Matthews ’54 Used His IRA to Help History Professors at W&L Roy Matthews's career in academia helped him understand the challenges faced by professors in the humanities--and how he could help.
Roy Matthews’s shaky start at W&L did not hint at his future career as a successful university professor. During a recent telephone conversation from his home in Washington, D.C. he described his journey from struggling during his first term at W&L to being a history scholar and author. He also talked about his decision to support the W&L History Department, where his journey began, through his IRA.
“You come into a school like W&L, and you’re pretty raw and probably not very sophisticated in some ways – although you probably think you are,” he recalls. “I nearly failed out my first term. Then I made the dean’s list the second term and the honor roll from there on out. I learned how to study.”
The studying worked. After graduating from W&L in 1954 with a degree in history, Roy earned an M.A. from Duke and a Ph.D. from UNC Chapel Hill. He ultimately spent 31 years at Michigan State University, teaching in the Department of Humanities and later the Department of History.
Roy had a fruitful career as an educator, and of course, he published. In academic circles he is best known as co-author of the award-winning, two-volume textbook “The Western Humanities.” His two titles perhaps of most interest to W&L audiences are “Ending with a Flourish: A Collection of Essays Celebrating William A. Jenks,” which Roy co-edited with retired W&L history professor Holt Merchant ’61, and most recently “Gittin’ Through: A Southern Town During World War II.”
During his years in Michigan, Roy kept the W&L fires burning. He worked as an alumni admissions volunteer, interviewing potential W&L students and making presentations at local high schools during college nights to tell them about a little school in Lexington, Virginia.
After retiring, Roy and his wife, LeeAnn, relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2001. Back on the East Coast and closer to Lexington, Roy deepened his involvement with W&L. He began serving as a class agent. Even with classmates he had lost touch with after college, Roy found that the W&L connection remained. “I just get on the phone sometimes and call some guys I know or they send me an email. You pick up right where you left off.”
One of the fruits of Roy’s continually evolving relationship with W&L is the Roy T. Matthews ’54 Endowment for History. He established it in 2013 to support students and faculty in the History Department. During his years at MSU, he observed that while the sciences benefited from large grants, budgets in liberal arts departments were always modest. More than once during his career, in order to go to an academic conference, Roy had to plead with a department chair for help to pay for a plane ticket, a hotel room, or some part of the cost. Travel and research, Roy knew, were an area where a relatively small gift could make a big impact.
For that reason, he decided to establish a fund to support the new generation of teacher-scholars who are following in the footsteps of Adams, Desha, Dickey, Fishwick, Jenks, Johnson, Leyburn, Pusey, Reigel, Starling, Stephenson, Turner, Welch and many others who prepared him and his classmates for an unknown future.
When he has the time, Roy drives from Washington to Richmond, Virginia, to join seven or eight members of the Class of 1954 who get together for a monthly luncheon at the Westminster Canterbury retirement center. The continued importance of W&L in the lives of these octogenarians is striking, but Roy explains it so easily that it’s clear he has thought of it often since 1954.
“Those four years are the most formative years of any person’s life, even more so than high school. You are thrown into an academic environment where you are challenged. You work hard, and you can see the results of your efforts. You have professors there who encourage you, and they keep raising the bar every time they encourage you. They are pushing you and you don’t even know that – you don’t always understand that at that stage in your life.
“At our 25th reunion, we were sitting around in a room in one of the motels. We asked ourselves what was unique about W&L. Many of these men who were at the height of their careers said that W&L gave them a confidence to go on to the next level in their lives. And that confidence was not in some kind of a know-it-all way, but a confidence that you could keep doing better, that you have the training now to move on to law school or medical school or business, or whatever choice you made at that stage of your life.”
To fund his endowment, Roy Matthews ’54 designated W&L as the beneficiary of his IRA upon his death. A couple years after setting up the paperwork, he felt compelled to try to fund the endowment during his lifetime. He didn’t like leaving to his wife and family the logistical work of finalizing the funding after his death. And, he wanted the endowment to benefit the History Department sooner rather than later. But, there was a matter of taxes.
“I wanted to go ahead and fund it, but I would have to pay taxes on it,” Roy said. “When I learned I could roll over my IRA funds for a charitable distribution that removed the major road block.” In 2016, Roy took advantage of the IRA charitable rollover provision that Congress had just permanently authorized the year before, and he was able to fund the entire endowment handily.
This academic year the Roy T. Matthews ’54 Endowment for History began contributing funding to the History Department at W&L.
To follow in Roy’s footsteps and designate W&L as a beneficiary of your IRA in your estate plans, or to take advantage of the IRA Charitable Rollover and see the results of your giving now, contact W&L’s office of gift planning at 540-458-8902.
A Life of Kindness A New Scholarship Honors Lou Hodges
When Lou Hodges died in February, the W&L community mourned for an educator and proponent of social justice whose impact on the campus still looms large. But now the community can celebrate because Lou’s name is permanently memorialized at the school he served for 43 years.
Lou’s wife of nearly 62 years, Helen Hodges, along with an anonymous former student of Lou’s, have established a scholarship in his memory. The scholarship will go to a student who needs help in order to attend W&L. It’s a fitting legacy. Lou had a lifelong habit of quietly befriending and supporting people-especially students-who came across his path and needed a kind word. Now, the scholarship in his name will continue his practice.
At the Hodges home on a recent morning, Helen looked through old photos and artifacts while discussing what she hopes will be remembered about her late husband through the W&L Scholarship. One photograph showed Lou in his academic robes, grinning, with a favorite hunting cap on his head. Handwritten letters from former students, sent after his death, shared stories and anecdotes from long ago. There’s also a copy of his 1960 doctoral dissertation on racial prejudice, which their eldest son, John Hodges, self-published in 2012.
Each item prompted a story, and with each story, Helen was reminded of another special item. Gradually, a picture emerged of a man who was deeply concerned about racial justice, who was bold to take a stand and impossible to pigeonhole, who was deeply kind but also had a rascally streak.
In the year before his father’s death, John Hodges self-published another of his father’s writings, “The Academy, The Press, Ethics.” In the opening pages of that publication, John paraphrased a quotation from his father: “It’s not ‘about’ being right; it’s certainly not ‘about’ being wrong. It is all about how we treat each other.”
“I think his whole life was all about that,” said Helen. “Lou was sort of an unofficial chaplain at W&L.” He took a special interest in his students and became a counselor and a friend to the ones who had trouble fitting in. “They saw Lou as someone who would listen.”
Now, through the Hodges Scholarship, new generations of W&L students will experience Lou Hodges’ generosity of spirit. Helen is funding the Hodges Scholarship in part with IRA charitable rollover gifts. She and W&L hope that others who were impacted by Lou will want to contribute to the scholarship.
Remembering Lou Hodges
The Roanoke Times published a warm tribute to Professor Hodges, which can be read online.
And the Society of Christian Ethics has published the tribute that Harlan Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion Emeritus, delivered at Hodges’ funeral.
Is a Charitable Gift Annuity Right for You?
Ben Cummings ’67, ’70L is honoring his 50th reunion with a generous gift benefiting the Class of 1967 Scholarship. Recently Ben spoke with W&L about his gift and why using a charitable gift annuity was a good choice for him
Ben Cummings on the advantages of using the charitable gift annuity:
The charitable gift annuity option was attractive to me in particular because I had a number of stocks that I had accumulated over the years. They had appreciated quite a bit in value, so the annuity was a mechanism by which I could save some taxes and make the tax savings part of the gift, to make the gift a little larger. Secondly, I like the idea of having some income come back. It brings back good memories to see a little check come in four times a year with the name W&L on it.
On philanthropy to W&L:
This is the largest single philanthropic gift I’ve made so far. I think philanthropy is important, and I’m fortunate now to be able to do this in my retirement years. I don’t need everything I’ve accumulated over all these years. The annuity approach was effective for me right now, but for others it might be cash or another strategy. But, at this stage in our lives, whether it’s cash or something else, I think my contemporaries should be thinking about giving something meaningful back, particularly when so many of us from W&L have been successful in life. Think back to what got us to where we are now. For most of us, W&L was where it began.
Charitable Gift Annuities Defined
A charitable gift annuity is a gift vehicle that falls in the category of planned giving. It is a contract between a donor and a non-profit organization, whereby the donor transfers cash or property to the organization in exchange for a partial tax deduction and a lifetime stream of annual income from the charity. When the donor passes away, the charity retains the gift. Importantly, no capital gains taxes are due at transfer of appreciated assets to the nonprofit organization.
The charitable gift annuity is just one option within a menu of gift vehicles that can provide a donor with lifetime income while reducing tax liability. To learn more about charitable gift annuities or other life-income gift vehicles, contact W&L’s office of gift planning today or call 540-458-8902.