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W&L Welcomes 1,000 Back to Campus for Record-breaking Reunion Alumni and their guests from the classes of 1974-2009 returned to campus to celebrate its annual spring Alumni Weekend.

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Washington and Lee welcomed nearly 1,000 alumni and guests from the classes of 1974-2009 back to campus May 2-5 to celebrate its annual spring Alumni Weekend, which also saw record-setting giving. Reunion participants traveled from 40 states to reconnect with one another and their alma mater, and the collective class reunion gifts raised more than $5.3 million for the Annual Fund. The beautiful spring weather led to high spirits and enjoyable gatherings throughout the weekend.

In his spirited Opening Assembly speech, William “Billy” M. Webster IV ’79, emeritus trustee and 45th reunion co-chair, reminded alumni of their shared bond with W&L. “There are so many reasons to love W&L. Reunion Weekend reminds us that chief among those is our shared sense of experience with a unique community of friends … some we may be seeing again for the first time in decades,” he remarked. “Let us lean in and glory in Washington and Lee as we did when we first sat here, in this chapel, many years ago, and began our journey.” View the video of Webster’s entire remarks here.

Highlights of the Alumni Weekend schedule included:

  • Thursday welcome receptions for the 25th and 50th reunion classes of 1999 and 1974; members of the 25th Reunion Committee brought items to be buried in a time capsule in the hardscaping of the Lindley Center for Student Wellness to be opened in 2049. Items shared included a frisbee and T-shirt from the 250th celebration in 1999 and concert posters from shows in the 1990s;
  • The Opening Assembly in University Chapel, featuring keynote remarks by Webster;
  • Omicron Delta Kappa honor society welcomed honorary initiates Jennifer Stone Wolkind ’99, Matthew L. Wotiz ’99, Thomas A. Mattesky ’74 and John M. Zamoiski ’74;
  • Bagels and Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the 50th Reunion Committee, which included a special proclamation for former director Joan Robbins. Robbins supported Jewish life on campus by creating a newsletter for the university’s Jewish alumni, parents and friends, by accompanying W&L students on Birthright Israel trips and by leading the first W&L Hillel alternative Spring Break excursions focused on service. Of utmost importance, Robbins led efforts to fund the Hillel House building on campus, which opened in 2010;
  • The 50th Reunion Committee sponsored a panel featuring discussions with current students. The Class of 1974 invited all alumni to join them for this opportunity to hear from several exceptional students who shared their experiences on campus and provided insight into W&L today;
  • Alumni Picnic for all reunion classes under beautiful sunny skies;
  • Record attendance for the 10th annual Women in Leadership event, celebrating 35 years of undergraduate alumnae and featuring remarks from VP of Admissions and Financial Aid Sally Stone Richmond and a panel of student leaders;
  • Academic open houses, networking receptions, outdoor activities and an Admissions seminar;
  • Reception and tour for the Class of 1994 in the Office of Inclusion and Engagement, which the class supported in its 25th reunion year;
  • Friday evening class receptions and dinners for reunionists to reconnect with classmates as they returned to Lexington;
  • Casual Saturday afternoon class gatherings on campus and at the homes of local alumni reunionists and a spirited Kentucky Derby viewing party in a packed Evans Hall, where attendees had the opportunity to cheer on two horses with West Paces Racing, a syndicate owned by fellow alumnus Larry Connolly ’79;
  • A reunion brunch and university update with President Will Dudley;
  • All generations of reunionists came together on Saturday night for the Grand Finale event on Cannan Green to close out the Alumni Weekend celebrations, packing the dance floor and enjoying live music by the band The Lone Rangers.

The Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association was held in University Chapel on Saturday morning. The Alumni Association elected Sandy Hooper ’97, ’03L of Mountain Brooke, Alabama, as incoming president and Kristen Youngblood Archer ’06 of West Orange, New Jersey, as vice president, as well as six new members of the Alumni Board of Directors: Cory Chung Allison ’94, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Kevin Anderson ’86, Raleigh, North Carolina; Cory Mettee Birdsall ’99, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland; Stephen Hostetler ’02, Charlotte, North Carolina; Lorena Manriquez ’88, South Pasadena, California; and Mikel Parker ’99, Alpharetta, Georgia.

The Alumni Association also honored five recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award during Saturday’s Generals Assembly. Receiving the Alumni Association’s highest honor were reunionists Theodore “Ted” Bauer ’74, James “Jim” Farrar ’74, William “Bill” Wallace ’74, ’77L, Thomas “T.” Blair ’99 and Elizabeth Richey Thompson ’99. Alumni Weekend 2024 marked the 50th bestowing of the award.

The success of the weekend was underscored by the class reunion gifts and class and program records set. Collectively, this year’s reunion classes raised more than $1.4 million for the 2023-24 Annual Fund and committed a total of $5.3 million in current gifts and future pledges to the Annual Fund.

Among the reunion giving highlights:

  • The Class of 1974 presented their 50th reunion class gift, totaling more than $4.8 million — the largest 50th reunion gift in four years — with 64% of the class participating.
  • The Class of 1999 had an exceptional year with a total of $7.3 million, shattering the existing 25th reunion record of $4.7 million held by the Class of 1996. Other new 25th records include the single-year Annual Fund, overall Annual Fund, class project and number of leadership donors.
  • The Class of 1994 broke two all-time program records. Raising over $1.4 million in current gifts and future pledges committed to the Annual Fund, they surpassed the record of $1.3 million set by the class of 1969 in 2009. And, raising $382,000 for FY23-24 Annual Fund, the Class of 1994 surpassed the program record of $359,000 set by the Class of 1979 in 2014.
  • The Class of 2004 increased their Annual Fund support by 55% over the previous year, taking home the John Newton Thomas Trophy.
  • Two reunion classes (1999 and 1994) raised over $1 million to the Annual Fund. This has only happened once before, in 2014.
  • W&L’s senior class (2024) and the Class of 1999 (25th reunion) competed in the second annual Senior Class vs. 25th Reunion Class Participation Challenge. The two classes competed to see who would have the highest participation in the Annual Fund by Alumni Weekend. Challenge videos were sent by the co-chairs of each group and shared with the committees. The Class of 1999 won the challenge and were bestowed gold medals by the senior co-chairs. The challenge provided networking opportunities and volunteer competition between alumni and students. The senior class continues their class gift push until June 30. The Class of 2024 has tremendous results and momentum in their final push for senior class gift.

The weekend was a success thanks to the efforts of 180 reunion volunteers, who worked throughout the year to encourage classmates to register and raise money for class gifts. The following reunion chairs led the way for their respective classes: Joe Leary ’74, Hap Stein ’74, Matthew Towns ’74, Bill Wallace ’74, ’77L, Jim Davis ’79, Bill Reighley ’79, Chris Volk ’79, Billy Webster ’79, Peter Collins ’84, Rick de Alessandrini ’84, Wade Meadows ’84, Warren Watkins ’84, Patience Jones Garrett ’89, Mike Jones ’89, Caroline Boone Mitchell ’89, Taylor Williams ’89, Trabue Bland ’94, Colin Higgins ’94, Mary Auro Lydon ’94, Mai Spurlock Sykes ’94, Cory Mettee Birdsall ’99, T. Blair ’99, Susannah Hewlett Baker ’04, Anne Young Bell ’04, Ryan Duffy ’04, William Litton ’04, Christina Merchant Carpenter ’09, Matt Craycraft ’09, Ted Kingsbery ’09 and Liz Garson Koteles ’09.

Reunion Awards and Trophies

  • Reunion Bowl (highest percentage of classmates registered): With 29.3% percent of the class in attendance, this year’s winner was the Class of 1974.
  • Reunion Trophy (greatest number of classmates registered): With 125 registrants, this year’s winner was the Class of 1999.
  • Reunion Road Warrior Award (reunionist traveling the furthest distance to campus): Chris Brand, Class of 1989, traveled almost 3,000 miles from Mill Valley, California, to celebrate his 35th reunion.
  • John Newton Thomas Trophy (largest percentage increase in Annual Fund commitments over the previous year): With a 55% increase in their one-year Annual Fund total, the trophy was awarded to the Class of 2004.
  • Trident Trophy (highest percentage of class participation in the Annual Fund): With 46% percent of the class making a commitment, this year’s winner was the Class of 1974.
  • Reunion Chairs’ Bowl (highest percentage of reunion registrants participating in the Annual Fund): With 91% percent of the Alumni Weekend registrants in the class making a commitment, this year’s winner was the Class of 1994.
  • Colonnade Cup (largest reunion gift to the Annual Fund): With a total gift of over $1.4 million, this year’s winner was the Class of 1994. There are only five other classes to have ever raised more than $1M in commitments for the Annual Fund in their reunion year. With this total, the Class of 1994 set a new program record for the largest commitment by any reunion class, beating the previous record of $1.3M that was set 15 years ago by the Class of 1969 in their 40th reunion.