Homecomings conjure up thoughts of floats, fun and football but also bring to mind school spirit in the form of philanthropic generosity. Homecoming 2006 was no exception, with a number of commitments to the Campaign for William and Mary being announced or celebrated during the weekend’s festivities. Among the commitments were gifts supporting campus beautification, student scholarships, lecture endowments, library needs and professorships.
“Homecoming was a wonderful demonstration of the intense loyalty that alumni have for the College,” said Sean Pieri, vice president for university development. “The many gifts that were announced demonstrate that momentum for the Campaign for William and Mary is strong as we prepare to reach and exceed our goal of half a billion dollars in the coming months.”
During the long weekend, several events highlighted the power of private support. At the chemistry department’s annual reception, for instance, Gary Rice, department chair, announced that Marshall (’61) and Patricia Pound Barry (’63) had established an endowment to fund annual scholarships to academically distinguished undergraduates majoring in chemistry. Not realizing that a student had already been chosen, the Barrys were pleasantly surprised to be joined by the first recipient of their scholarship, Rebecca S. Plummer, a freshman.
During a late afternoon ceremony, President Gene R. Nichol officially dedicated the Eileen and Terry Glenn Garden at the President’s House. Combining a desire to do something for the College with a love of gardening, Terry (’63) and Eileen established an endowment in 2003 to support the general purposes of the College, including the maintenance of the President’s House Garden.
Other commitments were announced and passed at the annual meeting of the College of William and Mary Foundation (formerly the Endowment Association). Among them were a number of academic and athletic scholarships, an endowment that provides support for Swem Library’s most pressing needs, memorial endowments, program endowments, a student-faculty research fund and professorships. In addition, the foundation recognized significant gifts from A. Marshall Acuff Jr. (’62) and G. Hartwell Hylton (’72) who, respectively, established endowments for a varsity golf scholarship and a professorship in international relations within the government department.
And it would not be homecoming without class reunions. Not only did thousands return to campus to meet up with fellow classmates and friends, but nine reunion classes from 1961 through 2001 made an overall commitment of $20.5 million in support of all areas of the College. Included in the commitment was $4.36 million to the Fund for William and Mary, the College’s largest source of expendable monies. Class chairs proudly presented a check for that amount to Provost P. Geoffrey Feiss at the annual Fourth Century Club brunch.
“What an enormous contribution this gift means to this institution,” said Feiss. “There is a phenomenal, tangible, real affection and caring for this place that comes from the alumni that permeates the campus.”
Noting that gifts to the fund and other areas of the campaign are having a huge impact on students, faculty and the campus in general, Feiss said that it is the generosity of alumni that makes William and Mary renowned in higher education.
“The College is spectacular now, but I know that in 10 or 20 years it will be far more spectacular, thanks to private support,” he said.