The Columns

Warren A. Stephens Recognized at W&L’s Colonnade

— by on October 10th, 2015

The renovation and restoration of the Colonnade would not have occurred during the Honor Our Past, Build Our Future campaign without the special support of Warren ‘79 and Harriet Stephens of Little Rock, Arkansas, and their children Laura ’12, John and Miles. Warren served as co-chair of the recently completed $542.5 million campaign and as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2015. Harriet and Warren made an early leadership gift for the Colonnade at the beginning of the campaign and a second in early 2015.

Harriet, Laura, John and Miles wanted to honor Warren at the end of the campaign and made a third gift recognizing his leadership and devotion to the University. Due to the third gift, the University was able to reach the $50 million campaign goal for the Colonnade. The Stephens family has continuously supported the University through contributions to the capital campaign and many other initiatives, giving over $25 million to Washington and Lee to date.

In recognition of the Stephens family’s support and in honor of Warren, the University announced at its campaign celebration Oct. 9 that it has named the walkway of the Colonnade the Warren A. Stephens Colonnade Walk. Two stone plaques placed in the walkway at Newcomb Hall and later at Tucker Hall will read:

“A gift was made in Mr. Stephens’ name by his wife, Harriet, and their children Laura (Class of 2012), John, and Miles in recognition of and appreciation for his love of and devotion to Washington and Lee University. Mr. Stephens served as Co-Chair of the capital campaign, Honor Our Past, Build Our Future: The Campaign for Washington and Lee (2008-2015), and was a member of the Board of Trustees (1997-1998, 2007-2015). During those years, the Stephens family made significant gifts to renovate and restore the Colonnade and established an endowment to ensure its preservation. The Colonnade symbolizes Washington and Lee and its core values of honor, integrity, civility and excellence. A walk along the Colonnade reminds students and faculty of Washington and Lee’s illustrious history while inspiring them to be Non Incautus Futuri, Not Unmindful of the Future.”

At a tribute to her father during a May 2015 dinner when the University and trustees celebrated his service, Laura told the story of her great-grandfather taking Warren to Lexington more than 40 years ago to visit his alma mater, VMI. Warren realized then that the row of brick buildings and white columns at Washington and Lee were a better match for him.

“Two special moments I shared with my dad serve as bookends to my years as an undergraduate,” Laura continued. “The first, the night before freshman move-in day, we walked the Colonnade as he gave me fatherly advice and reassured me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The second, another walk down the Colonnade the day after graduation, my dad comforted and reassured me that my experiences here would not be limited to the past four years. This is a walk that we have all taken countless times, and it sums up the bond that I share with my dad and all of you. It is one that extends past bricks and columns. … It seems that no matter what is happening outside Lexington, being on campus and taking that walk, brings a sense of order, clarity, peace, and, most importantly, hope.”

“Warren’s and my first date was at Washington and Lee thirty-six years ago,” said Harriet. “Warren had just graduated and as we drove into Lexington there was a perceptible excitement and pride that was evident in him. From the outset, it was obvious how much Warren loves Washington and Lee and the Colonnade has always represented what he holds dear about the University. It is with tremendous pleasure and happiness that our family is able to honor him in the naming of the Warren A. Stephens Colonnade Walk.”