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Introducing The 1749 Circle Co-Chairs A Q&A about the importance of the Annual Fund.

1749-Logo2-1 Introducing The 1749 Circle Co-Chairs

The 1749 Circle recognizes Washington and Lee’s most loyal supporters. Membership begins with three consecutive years of giving, regardless of the purpose or the amount of the gift. These alumni, parents and friends of W&L have been essential in establishing a dependable Annual Fund, which are resources that the university can readily use to support student and faculty opportunities, and our historic campus.

W&L has maintained near or above a 50 percent alumni participation rate, placing it among the top private liberal arts schools in the country. Farris Hotchkiss ’58 has long led the charge of loyal donors as chair of The 1749 Circle, leading by example and inspiring others to do the same.

To highlight the importance of consistent giving, Hotchkiss is now joined by two co-chairs, Jane Batcheller ’03, ’08 and Steele Burrow ’13. Each represents a constituency of alumni: Five-Star Generals (1969 and earlier) for Hotchkiss, General Alumni (1970–2009) for Batcheller and Young Alumni (2010–2019) for Burrow — as they work to enhance and steward The 1749 Circle and the reliable supporters who are so important to our beloved university.

We caught up with the co-chairs to discuss their thoughts on leadership, The 1749 Circle and the importance of consistent giving.

Jane Ledlie Batcheller

JLB-_-1-150x150 Introducing The 1749 Circle Co-ChairsJane Batcheller ’03, ’08L

Q: What do you consider as the most important qualities of a strong leader?

A: The most effective leaders are those who listen to understand and who empower, prepare, delegate and entrust others to succeed, and of course serve as an example for others, particularly in the areas of integrity, work ethic, respect and priorities.

Leadership does not mean you have to have all of the answers. Don’t close doors on yourself — we do a great job of convincing ourselves we’re not qualified for a particular situation, so we don’t even bother throwing our hat in the ring. Trust me when I say that people FAR less qualified than you are signing up for new jobs and leadership roles. If it sounds interesting to you, go for it.

Q: Can you share your reasons for choosing to remain deeply engaged with W&L?

A: It’s virtually impossible for me to adequately explain the impact W&L has had on my life, both personally and professionally. I am so much of who I am today because I spent those pivotal years at W&L. Volunteering a little time is the least I can do. I really enjoy the opportunities I have had over the years to interact with current students, whether that’s been speaking at the Women’s Leadership Forum, collaborating with the Executive Committee or interacting with the soccer team, to name a few.

Q: What would you like to emphasize to alumni and friends when it comes to giving back to the university?

A: Your contribution to the university has impact, no matter the form or the amount. There is so much that wouldn’t exist at W&L if it weren’t for our alumni who give both their time and their financial support. Sometimes it may feel like we don’t have enough of either to give, but truly every little bit helps.

Steele Burrow

steele-burrow-1-150x150 Introducing The 1749 Circle Co-ChairsSteele Burrow ’13

Q: What are your goals as a member of the Annual Fund Council? What excites you most about the work ahead?

A: This work with the Annual Fund is an amazing opportunity to reconnect with former classmates and meet new alumni, all while helping a key program of the university. One of my favorite parts is reaching out to people I haven’t seen in years and learning what they have done since graduation. It never fails to impress.

Q: What would you like to emphasize to alumni and friends when it comes to giving back to the university?

A: W&L is an incredibly unique place that builds upon a history and a culture distinct from any other university. That’s why alumni remain so committed to the school and why so many graduates who go on to prestigious grad schools still look back on their years at W&L as their most formative. It can only stay that way if current and former students continue to remain actively involved.

Farris Hotchkiss

farris2020-1-150x150 Introducing The 1749 Circle Co-ChairsFarris Hotchkiss ’58

Q: What does it mean to you to be in a leadership role at W&L?
A: One of my great privileges has been to serve Washington and Lee because serving the university helps to prepare students to assume their own leadership roles in their future lives. It is humbling to stand in the long line of W&L leaders who have applied their skills and dedication to this historic institution of higher learning.

Q: Why is the Annual Fund so important?
A: The Annual Fund, along with the endowment, is the best and most direct investment in the lives and education of our students and faculty, both undergraduate and law.

Q: What are your goals as a member of the Annual Fund Council?

A: Among other goals that volunteers should pursue is the specific goal of The 1749 Circle, which is to urge all alumni to make their Annual Fund gifts steadily and, hopefully, without pause each year. A constant stream of philanthropic support is essential for the educational health of the university, both undergraduate and law.

Click here to learn more about The 1749 Circle.