They have good reason to celebrate — and so does the College. During Homecoming 2008, which takes place Oct. 23-26, nine classes from 1963 to 2003 will gather on campus for their class reunions. The Class of 1959 will return in spring 2009 in celebration of their 50th Reunion. In addition to reconnecting with classmates, the reunion classes pull together for another reason: making a difference for the College.
Reunion gifts provide William and Mary with expendable resources, which allow the College to meet daily operating expenses as well as direct funds where they are needed most — providing everything from research opportunities to improvements to facilities to funds for study abroad.
"These gifts make an impact at the College every day," says Sean Pieri, vice president for development. "Our alumni are key partners in moving the College toward an extraordinary future."
The Class of 1983 is making an impact in a big way — exceeding its original Class Gift goal of $750,000 and exceeding their stretch goal of $1 million — with $1.019 million raised toward unrestricted gifts and pledges to the Fund for William and Mary as of Oct. 14.
"We felt that the school really needed to go to a higher level and raise the bar and start reaching for bigger numbers," says Tim Dunn '83, who, along with wife Ellen Stofan '83 and classmate Peter Atwater '83, is co-chairing the 25th Reunion gift committee.
"William and Mary is so often compared with the great colleges and universities around America and we can compete in many ways," says Dunn, also a member of the Board of Visitors. "But if you look at the financial resources that we're working with, we're risking not being able to maintain that position."
Dunn says that he has gotten the impression that a $1 million target for a 25th Reunion gift is relatively moderate compared to peer institutions. The committee has also identified groups within the class — from fraternities and sororities to dorm mates to athletic teammates — to rally them behind the overall cause.
"I think if you can make it more personal and capture those memories that speak to 'what the school really did for me,' it’s a good way to get people to participate," Stofan says.
Like the Class of 1983, enthusiasm is running at a strong pace for the classes of 1973, 1988 and 1998. The Class of 1973 has exceeded its half-million goal with $502,000 raised. The Class of 1988 topped its original goal of $488,000 and is closing in on half a million dollars. The Class of 1998 is currently at $140,000, which surpasses its original goal of $125,000.
"We worked very hard the first six to eight weeks to build a gift committee that had the potential to be both very broad and very deep and I believe it led to the success we've had so far," says Kendrick Ashton ’98, who is chair of his reunion gift committee.
Ellen Stofan credits the Class of 1983’s gift committee with much of their success as well.
"We have some great members of the committee who've really worked hard and made a lot of calls and reached out. You've got to have people out there asking and we definitely have that on our committee."
Stofan also says that it is crucial to increase participation of alumni who give, and Ashton agrees.
"The College wants you involved and needs you involved, no matter how little the time or how small the contribution," he says. "And I hope current students hear about the Class of 1998's efforts and conclude that they want to follow in our footsteps because we represent the best traditions of our very fine and much-loved alma mater."
Ashton says he's looking forward to seeing his classmates at Homecoming.
"It should be quite a reunion," he says. "I'm not sure Williamsburg will be able to handle it."