The Columns

W&L Concludes Outstanding Fund-Raising Year

— by on August 12th, 2008

Washington and Lee University concluded a stellar fund-raising year on June 30. New gifts and pledges, the best indicator of support for any college, totaled $37.6 million, up from $26.1 million a year ago after subtracting extraordinary gifts. The previous year included historic commitments of $100 million from Rupert H. Johnson Jr. ’62 and $33 million from H. F. (Gerry) Lenfest ’53, ’55L.

“The past year continued the University’s momentum in fund-raising,” said Dennis Cross, vice president for University advancement. “Our progress reflects the positive feelings alumni, parents, and friends share about Washington and Lee under the leadership of President Ruscio.

“W&L is blessed to have magnificent, loyal supporters who care deeply about this place and its distinctiveness,” Cross continued. “They appreciate a W&L education and what it continues to mean to them. They want today’s students to enjoy the best liberal arts and legal education possible and to ensure the presence of the best and most dedicated faculty.”

Overall for 2007-08, cash received from private sources totaled $51.1 million, up from $38.6 million in the previous year. Of this amount, more than $44 million went into endowment or new or renovated facilities.

W&L’s Annual Fund set a new record, with 11,036 donors giving $6.85 million, an increase of almost 11 percent from 2006-07. The Annual Fund has increased from $4.69 to the $6.85 million in four years, and now represents more than seven percent of the University’s unrestricted operating budget. Without the Annual Fund, the University would need an additional $137 million in unrestricted endowment monies.

Both undergraduate and law alumni and parents set new records for giving to the Annual Fund, with alumni contributing an unprecedented $5.79 million and parents exceeding $1 million in gifts to the Parents Fund for the first time. According to Tres Mullis, executive director of University development, a significant factor in the Annual Fund results was the success of the first year of The President’s Society, recognizing gifts of $2,500 or more to the Annual Fund. 730 donors became charter members of The President’s Society in 2007-08.

Within The President’s Society, Mullis also reported that 6 donors joined the new Founders’ Circle which includes Annual Fund gifts of $50,000 or more. Other significant growth occurred within the George Washington Associates with its membership increasing 95% to 406 members. This giving level within The President’s Society recognizes gifts of $2,500 to $4,999. 

Another significant factor in the record Annual Fund was the leadership of chair Bill Wallace ’74 ’77L, Law chair Rob Aliff ’91 97L, and Parents Leadership Council chairs Buddy and Ginger Pickle. Hundreds of others made a big difference as reunion leaders, class agents or volunteers, alumni chapter officers, Trustees and advisory council members.

“The success of the Annual Fund brings real and tangible benefits directly to the institution and enhances our ability to provide an exceptional education for our students,” said President Ken Ruscio. “It also instills a sense of shared enterprise and mutual commitment among so many parents, alumni and friends.”

Beyond the difference made by the Annual Fund, Cross noted that students, faculty and staff experience every day the benefits of other gifts made recently, including: the dedication of Holekamp Hall (the former Co-Op) last fall, the improvements to Wilson Field, plans for the renovation and restoration of the Colonnade, plans for the new W&L Hillel House and the arrival of some of the nation’s top students supported by the new Johnson Scholars program and other endowed scholarships.

Other benefits seen every day include the recognition of the University’s best teachers–scholars with named professorships, more competitive faculty salaries through progress in meeting the Lenfest Challenge, the opening of the new exhibition in the Lee Chapel & Museum which highlights Washington and Lee’s role in educating to build and rebuild a nation, renovations to Leyburn Library, enhancements to undergraduate science education and support of the University’s schools, departments and programs.

“A Washington and Lee, education would be quite different without the support we receive each year from each person and the ongoing legacy we derive from the precious resources provided over the generations,” Cross said. “We can be very proud of the fruits of our shared vision and our collective generosity invested in our students, faculty, campus and programs. As we begin the early stages of a new campaign, we are well positioned for an historic effort that will continue the legacy shared by the members of the Washington and Lee community.”