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Silver Linings The Class of 1995 is celebrating its milestone reunion with a gift to support CARPE and the Annual Fund.

Reunion-Tent-Early-Evening-800x533 Silver LiningsReunion celebration under the tent on Cannan Green

“I like the idea of how central and visible CARPE will be, right in the center of campus, in the library, and that it will be visible for a long time.”

~ Bates Brown ’95

When the Class of 1995 reunion committee met on campus last fall to discuss plans for its milestone 25th reunion, little did they image how profoundly the world would change by the time the would-have-been reunion weekend rolled around. But their decision to select CARPE, the university’s new teaching and learning center, as the beneficiary of their class gift has proven to be one of the few silver linings in this time of unimaginable challenges and disappointments for the W&L community.

Reunion co-chairs Dana Cornell MacNaughton and Bates Brown were both impressed when Paul Hanstedt, director of the Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE), provided an overview of the concept to the committee. “What was compelling for me is that I have three children with varied learning styles, and they need help in different areas,” MacNaughton said. “CARPE is like one-stop shopping for academic support and technology services for the entire student body. It’s an amazing resource.”

A number of aspects of the project appealed to Brown. “It was clear that supporting CARPE was key to the administration’s strategic plan, and there was a domino effect. CARPE had to be completed before other upgrades could be made on campus. So that was a logistical factor,” he explained.

Even more important for Brown was the fact that the gift would benefit not only students but faculty, as well — he values the traditionally close relationship between students and professors at W&L. “I also like the idea of how central and visible CARPE will be, right in the center of campus, in the library, and that it will be visible for a long time. And finally, I was glad we could help upgrade technology. The world has changed so much in the past 25 years, and it was good to hear how helpful this would be looking forward,” Brown added.

Just how helpful came quickly into focus when the university had to suddenly transition to online teaching in March. Hanstedt and Julie Knudson, director of Academic Technologies, quickly mobilized to help faculty prepare to teach online, while retaining the strong personal interaction that is such a hallmark of Washington and Lee. Learn more about their efforts here.

MacNaughton pointed out that donations to the Annual Fund, the second priority in the class gift, are more important than ever because every dollar raised between now and June 30 will help offset the costs incurred by the dramatic changes resulting from COVID-19, such as assisting students with emergency travel expenses and refunding parents a pro-rated portion of room and board fees.

“We were just getting started with our class-wide fundraising efforts when this started,” MacNaughton said. “Now our focus will be on participation, as we want to be sensitive to everyone’s personal financial stability.” Brown agreed: “It’s the right thing to do. Being aggressive in the environment we’re in would probably be counterproductive. Fortunately, we were off to a great start with early contributions from committee members and other leadership donors.”

Although an in-person reunion is not in the immediate future for the Class of 1995, the close friendships forged in Lexington have helped both MacNaughton and Brown cope with the stresses brought on by sheltering at home with their families in the New York area. They are in frequent contact with classmates and friends from their W&L days, and the Alumni Office has helped them connect by distributing a video of photos of their class and setting up a reunion Facebook page.

MacNaughton and some classmates met via Zoom on May 2, when their reunion was originally scheduled, to share memories and video clips. “We wish we could have been at the Palms with our entire class, but it was great to spend time chatting and making plans to meet in person as soon as we can.”

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