W&L Honors Distinguished Alumni, Returning Classes at Reunion Weekend The university welcomed more than 940 alumni and guests from the classes of 1973–2008 back to campus for its annual spring reunion festivities.
Washington and Lee University welcomed more than 940 alumni and guests from the classes of 1973–2008 back to campus in May to celebrate its annual spring Alumni Weekend. Reunion participants traveled from 39 states and two countries to reconnect with one another and their alma mater. The beautiful spring weather led to high spirits and enjoyable gatherings throughout the weekend.
Highlights of the Alumni Weekend schedule included:
- Thursday welcome receptions for the 25th and 50th reunion classes of 1998 and 1973;
- The Opening Assembly in University Chapel, featuring keynote remarks by Provost Lena Hill;
- Omicron Delta Kappa honor society welcomed honorary initiates Ernest U. Conrad, III ’73, Victoria Kumpuris Brown ’98, and Daniel W. Lee, III ’98;
- 50th Reunion Committee Sponsored Panel, featuring discussions with current students. The Class of 1973 invited all alumni to join for this opportunity to hear from several exceptional students who shared their experiences on campus and provided insight into W&L today;
- An Alumni Picnic for all reunion classes under beautiful sunny skies;
- A University Chapel tour and update from Lynn Rainville, director of institutional history;
- Academic open houses, networking receptions, outdoor activities and a Lifelong Learning seminar;
- Friday evening class receptions and dinners followed by a late-night band party, casual Saturday afternoon class gatherings on campus and at the homes of local alumni reunionists, and a spirited Kentucky Derby viewing party;
- A champagne brunch and university update;
- A Mock Convention 2024 update, at which student organizers provided a rousing report on their progress;
- A well-attended Grand Finale event on Cannan Green Saturday night to close the celebrations.
The Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association was held in University Chapel on Saturday morning. The Alumni Association elected Jane Ledlie Batcheller ’03, ’08L of Atlanta, Georgia as incoming president and Sandy Hooper ’98, ’03L from Birmingham, Alabama, as vice president, as well as six new members of the Alumni Board of Directors: Andy Folsom ’03, Columbia, South Carolina; Julia (“KJ”) Hallett ’15, New York, New York; Quiana McKenzie ’08, Raleigh, North Carolina; Bert Ponder ’83, Atlanta, Georgia; Jessica Taylor White ’04, Washington, D.C.; and Charlie Yates ’06, ’10L, Atlanta, Georgia.
The Alumni Association also honored four recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award during Saturday’s Generals Assembly. Receiving the Alumni Association’s highest honor were Don Eavenson ’73, Craig Jones ’73, Dr. Rebecca Bagdonas ’98 and Andrew Tate ’98.
The success of the weekend was underscored by the class reunion gifts. Collectively, this year’s reunion classes raised more than $1.4 million for the 2022-23 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 1973 raised the second-largest Annual Fund gift for the 50th reunion ($664,323).
- The Class of 1998, celebrating its 25th reunion, became the first class ever to raise more than $1 million in commitments for both the Annual Fund and their Class project (Williams School) in its reunion year ($2.5 million). For three years in a row, records were set for the total contributions by women in the 25th class. This year reached the significant milestone of surpassing $1 million in contributions by women.
- The Class of 1988 raised the second-largest gift for the 35th reunion ($859,923).
- The Class of 1993 raised the second-largest gift for the 30th reunion ($896,481).
- W&L’s Senior Class (2023) and the Class of 1998 (25th reunion) competed in the inaugural Senior Class vs. 25th Reunion Class Participation Challenge. The two classes faced off 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. 1998 won the challenge (tracking 4 percentage points ahead of the senior class) 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 and already has tremendous results and momentum leading into the final push.
- Members of The Presidents Society, the Annual Fund’s leadership giving society, enjoyed a celebration with more than 100 attendees at Lee House on Saturday evening with Provost Hill. Event attendees were treated to the unveiling of the original, student-commissioned, Alumni Weekend artwork by Mazie Goodlett ’23.
The weekend was a success thanks to the efforts of nearly 250 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: Johnny Folsom ’73, Craig Jones ’73, Craig Kendall ’78, Kevin Lamb ’78, Howard Rubel ’78, Bert Ponder ’83, Bennett Ross ’83, Jack Sharman ’83, Mike Henry ’88, Tom O’Brien ’88 ’92L, Bill Payne ’88, Steve Szczecinski ’88, Cathy McCullough Austin ’93, Evan Allison ’93, Melissa Foote New ’98, Colin Connolly ’98, Jeanne Upchurch de Laureal ’03, Catie Caldwell Lipsey ’03, Shane Saunders ’03, Wynne Sharpe ’03, Rebecca Timmis Russell ’08 and Nelson Bunn ’08.
“Alumni Weekend is such a special time for W&L alumni and for the campus community. Generations of alumni share a common bond across time through their experiences in Lexington and W&L, and it is especially evident during reunions,” said Tom Jennings, vice president for University Advancement. “It’s always great to see records broken, and congratulations to the Class of ’93 for setting a 30th reunion attendance record, to the Class of ’98 for setting records with the class gift and Annual Fund support, and to the Class of ’73 for its generosity and near-record attendance numbers.”
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Reunion Bowl (highest percentage of classmates registered): With 26% percent of the class in attendance, this year’s winner was the Class of 1973.
Reunion Trophy (greatest number of classmates registered): With 109 registrants, this year’s winner was the Class of 1998.
Reunion Road Warrior Award (reunionist traveling the furthest distance to campus): Henry Baey, Class of 1983, traveled from Singapore to celebrate his 40th reunion. Henry won the inaugural Road Warrior award when he attended his 25th reunion.
John Newton Thomas Trophy (largest percentage increase in Annual Fund commitments over the previous year): With a 72% increase in their one-year Annual Fund total, the trophy was awarded to the Class of 1973.
Trident Trophy (highest percentage of class participation in the Annual Fund): With 49% percent of the class making a commitment, this year’s winner was the Class of 1993.
Reunion Chairs’ Bowl (highest percentage of reunion registrants participating in the Annual Fund): With 87% percent of the Alumni Weekend registrants in the class making a commitment, this year’s winner was the Class of 1993.
Colonnade Cup (largest reunion gift to the Annual Fund): With a total gift of $1,049,270, this year’s winner was the Class of 1998. There are only four other classes to have ever raised more than $1 million in commitments for the Annual Fund in their reunion year. The 25th reunion class has now achieved this million-dollar milestone two years in a row.