When the time came to plan its 50th Reunion and the commemorative class gift, the Reunion Committee for William & Mary’s Class of 1965 had its sights set on breaking the record for the largest 50th Reunion gift in the university’s history.
And that’s just what members of the class did.
They soared past an original fundraising goal of $13.5 million and a stretch goal of $15 million to raise a grand total of $20.6 million for their alma mater. The reunion gift included contributions from 52 percent of all alumni from the Class of 1965 and 60 percent of those who graduated.
The previous record was set by the Class of 1962, which raised more than $13 million for its 50th Reunion.
Rich Kraemer ’65, who chaired the Reunion Committee said, “There was never any doubt that the class gift would set a record, but the total amount raised was a bit of a surprise. The number of people who attended the reunion last weekend also was a record.”
“It’s a very good group of people, a very special class,” he said. “We got very special results for a very special school.”
During the luncheon at which the class gift total was announced, William & Mary President Taylor Reveley — an honorary member of the Class of 1965 — praised the class for its dedication to the university through the decades.
“Fiftieth reunions are joyous occasions, not just for the classmates involved but also for alma mater,” he said. “Reunions remind us that people are at the heart of the university, and those people who remain connected to William & Mary across the years, throughout a lifetime, are precious beyond measure to alma mater.”
Chancellor Robert Gates ’65, L.H.D. ’98, the Reunion Committee’s honorary chair, was unable to attend the weekend festivities in Williamsburg, but recorded a video message for his classmates that was shown during the reunion.
“I’m very proud of what the Class of 1965 has done throughout the years, but especially in honor of our 50th anniversary,” he said. “As state funding for these great schools continues to decline, gifts from alumni and others for scholarships, for professorships and other such things have become even more important than they ever have been in the history of higher education. William & Mary, frankly, got kind of a late start in this, and I think we’re making up for lost time.”
More than $1.1 million of the reunion gift total is designated for the class project — the expansion of William & Mary’s Alumni House.
“Continued alumni engagement is critical to William & Mary’s future. An expanded Alumni House will allow us to connect even more meaningfully with our alumni and with current students,” said Marilyn Ward Midyette ’75, executive director of the William & Mary Alumni Association. “I could not be more pleased with the Class of 1965’s wonderful support for this worthwhile project.”
Gifts to all areas of the university from class members were counted in the total of $20.6 million.
“If you look to see where the funds are being directed, they’re being sent to all the corners of the campus, whether it’s athletics, academics, scholarships or general purpose funds,” said Howard Busbee ’65, J.D. ’67, M.L.T. ’68, a Reunion Committee co-chair. “We have basically tried to touch all areas of the campus through our campaign, and I think we’ve been successful.”
Busbee noted that a large number of his classmates have remained involved at the university through philanthropy, service on boards and committees and by engaging with current students to share their career experiences. “Their strong ties to the university and to one another could be the result of the time period in which they attended William & Mary,” he said.
“If you go back to the era of the mid-60s, it was a turbulent time,” Busbee said. “I think that turbulence drew our class together. We became more solidly involved as a class.”
Kraemer said he initially became engaged with William & Mary because he recognized the important role the university played in the foundation of his life.
“William & Mary is special to me in so many ways and I credit the university for helping me become who I am today. My experience at William & Mary — and the lifelong friendships I developed — are reasons why I come back from Arizona several times a year,” he said.
Glenne Hines Harding ’65, another Reunion Committee co-chair, has been involved in fundraising for several of her class’ reunions. Her reasons for continuing to support William & Mary are directly related to her time as an out-of-state student at the university.
“In the years I came, there were no scholarships for out-of-state women of any kind. I decided fairly quickly that I wanted to be able to do that. At the beginning I was only giving a small amount to the annual fund because that’s all I could afford, but I kept working at it to get to a position of being able to do that,” she said. “I just feel strongly that if we’re going to be a Public Ivy, we’re going to have to match Princeton in terms of scholarships. We can’t continue to have very promising students that say, ‘I got accepted at William & Mary and I really want to go there, but Princeton gave me money and William & Mary didn’t.’”
Tom Hollowell ’65, J.D. ’68, M.L.T. ’69, a Reunion Committee co-chair, said he was thrilled but not surprised with the class gift total. And he doesn’t expect – or want – the Class of 1965 to hold the record for long.
“I think future classes down the road are going to do far better than we did,” Hollowell said. “They have been trained a whole lot better than our class in giving to the College. Most of the graduates of the College came after 1980, so hopefully you’re going to see a lot better results.”