W&L’s Legendary Volunteers: Farris Hotchkiss ’58 Will Bou ’24 interviewed longtime volunteer Farris Hotchkiss ’58 to learn more about his service and dedication to Washington and Lee.
W&L alumni give their time to their alma mater in many ways, including serving as class agents, on reunion committees, as chapter leaders and on advisory boards. This winter, the Development Ambassadors, Annual Giving’s student volunteers, interviewed some of the university’s longtime, high-achieving, legendary volunteers.
Will Bou ’24 interviewed longtime volunteer Farris Hotchkiss ’58 to learn more about his service and dedication to Washington and Lee.
Volunteer Roles: Hotchkiss has been a class agent for 20 years and currently serves as chair of the Annual Fund’s loyalty donor society, the 1749 Circle. He is also a member of the Alumni Greek Council. He served on the Rockbridge Alumni Chapter, on several of his reunion committees, and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1987 until 1999.
W&L Background: As an undergraduate, Hotchkiss started the Student Service Society with the guidance of Dean Frank Gilliam, who wanted students to help make the campus more hospitable to visitors and assist with campus events. He was also the Calyx editor and editorial advisor for the Ring-tum Phi. Among his many student roles at W&L, Hotchkiss was secretary of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, vice president of Fancy Dress, a member of the President’s Advisory Council and a dormitory counselor. He earned a degree in economics.
Career: Hotchkiss retired in 2002 from Washington and Lee University as vice president for university relations, secretary of the university and senior advisor to the president. He has been credited with building a thriving development department at W&L, laying the groundwork for what exists today. Prior to working for his alma mater, he worked in the printing and public relations field with the Foote and Davies division of McCall Corporation.
“Ever since I enrolled at W&L in 1954, I have had a real love affair with the school, and I wanted to do what I could for it.”
~ Farris Hotchkiss ’58
Q: How did you first get involved in volunteering for W&L as an alumnus?
I went to work at W&L in University Relations in 1965 and enjoyed being part of several successful campaign efforts. But I really got involved as a volunteer a few years after I retired. Ever since I enrolled at W&L in 1954, I have had a real love affair with the school, and I wanted to do what I could for it.
Q: What inspired you to become a volunteer?
I really enjoyed fundraising work, and I realized the increasing importance of annual giving. I wanted to help spread awareness of the need for the Annual Fund and help grow it. I also take great pleasure in working with W&L’s loyal and talented alumni network.
Q: What have been your proudest moments as a W&L volunteer?
I don’t know that there is a single defining moment, but more of an overall feeling. I get a thrill every year as a class agent when my class reaches its goal, and I like to think, as an alumnus more than 60 years past my graduation, that I have helped the younger generations. It is so satisfying to see how our young alumni actively contribute to the university. I think one of my biggest thrills, more generally, is being part of a university that is a national historic landmark. To see how the university has been sustained over centuries in rewarding.
Q: When were you last on campus?
Almost every day! I have lived in Lexington since 1968.
Q: Why should alumni consider giving their time as a volunteer for W&L?
I am so proud of our alumni. They are talented and dedicated, and their support — both in time and resources — is precisely what enables W&L to prosper. It truly affects the opportunities and experiences available to students today and in the future. And it continues a legacy of support that is deeply rooted in the W&L community.
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