Meet the Parents Leadership Council Chairs The MacCowatts share their perspective on their new role with the PLC, philanthropy and W&L.
Anne and Tom MacCowatt P’18, ’22 have been engaged members of the W&L parent community since their daughter Mimi enrolled in 2014, serving on the Parents Leadership Council Steering Committee and volunteering to make welcome calls to incoming W&L families and host local W&L events. With a passion for W&L all their own, they have signed on to chair the Parents Leadership Council (PLC) for the next two years.
As PLC chairs, the MacCowatts help promote parent involvement and philanthropy, building and nurturing relationships with other parents and families to strengthen the W&L community. They have three children: Mimi ’18, Tommy ’22, and Liza, a graduate of Middlebury College.
The couple shared their perspective on their new role with the PLC, philanthropy and W&L.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new role as PLC chairs?
Whether on screen or on campus, we are looking forward to meeting other parents, especially new parents. We are also hoping to solicit and bring forward new ideas for parents to get involved in ways that are meaningful for them. Of course, we hope that the PLC will once again be a strong contributor to the Annual Fund.
Q: What were your top reasons for agreeing to serve as chairs?
We are grateful for all that W&L has provided our family and hope we can convey that to other parents. We also hope that through the support of all parents and alumni, W&L will continue to be among the top liberal arts choices in the United States.
Q: Tell us about Mimi and Tommy. What are they up to these days?
Mimi ’18 is living and working hard in NYC in the finance industry, and there are now several W&L alums at her firm. Tommy, a junior, is so happy to be back on campus, but honestly, there have been ups and downs. The kids really want to spend time with all of their friends and socialize, but COVID-19 makes that impossible at this time. He has been able to practice lacrosse on a very limited basis. While there are disappointments, he sees that the school is trying the best it can to make it work during the pandemic.
Q: What inspired you to become members of the PLC, and what has kept you engaged through the years?
We have always been involved in our children’s schools and know that the support of parents, both through volunteering and philanthropy, is critical to successful schools. Through the PLC we have met a lot of wonderful parents. In addition, we have had some unique opportunities to meet and engage with professors and administrators, which is always interesting and rewarding.
Q: Thinking back, what was your first or most memorable activity with the PLC?
The most memorable activity was a hard-hat sneak peek of the almost-completed third-year residential village during PLC Spring Weekend. It was exciting to know that our child would be moving into such well-thought-out and beautiful housing.
Q: What aspects of the W&L community do you most appreciate?
The W&L community is unique. First, there is an esprit de corps and a loyalty unlike any other school. Second, the Honor System and the Speaking Tradition really resonate with us and have a long-lasting impact. The faculty, staff, administration and coaches really care about and engage with the students. Finally, while W&L has a long history and many wonderful traditions, it is “not unmindful of the future.”
Q: You have been loyal and generous supporters of W&L. What is most gratifying to you as leadership donors to the Parents Fund?
We have the benefit of six consecutive years at W&L, so we have seen that the university plans well and that the impact of parent giving is directly reflected in the student experience.
Q: W&L introduced directed giving to the Annual Fund and Parents Fund this year. How do you think it will be received by the parent community? As donors, what is your view on directed giving?
From our experience at other schools, directed giving is an excellent option. It is exciting for those who would like their donations to go to a specific purpose to see the impact of that designation, whether it be financial aid, the arts or another area. Some parents’ philosophy is to support the institutional priorities and make a gift that is undesignated. We have usually been in the latter category because we want the school to have the flexibility to address needs as it sees fit.
Q: It is a challenging time for W&L. From operating in a pandemic to examining its namesakes, it is a year like no other. What are the challenges you are facing as you help to inspire other W&L parents to support the university, and how are you navigating them?
This is our first year as chairs, so we will be learning as we go! W&L is a community and it will be hard to make those personal connections from afar. The events for which many parents travel to Lexington and see W&L in action aren’t going to take place this fall. There is nothing like being on campus to feel the energy, meet your child’s friends, teachers, coaches, and leave excited about your child’s experience. We still want to give parents a view onto campus, so we are working on some virtual events later this fall. Also, we will reach out, but we hope that parents will feel free to reach out to us as well.
Our experience at W&L makes us confident in the thoughtful people and processes involved in decision-making. The school has navigated difficult situations well in the past, including coeducation. Whatever the outcomes, our students and the students to come will appreciate the foundations provided by those who called W&L home before them.
Find out more about the Parents Leadership Council and the Parents Fund on the W&L website. For more information or to make a contribution, please contact Ronni Gardner, director of parent giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-462-7377.