William & Mary celebrated its For the Bold campaign in South Hampton Roads last week. The region is home to more than 16,000 alumni, parents, family and friends of the university.
A crowd of almost 200 gathered at the Chrysler Museum of Art to celebrate the transformational impact the campaign is having on the lives of students, faculty and alumni. The museum and the Wells Fargo Center were illuminated in green and gold for the special evening.
“This evening we celebrate bold moments. These are the moments when we — level headed and fearless — decided to go for the long pass, to experiment, to scale heights and to lift others as we climb. One way we lift others every day is through scholarships,” said President Katherine A. Rowe. “Support for scholarships enables William & Mary to recruit the best and brightest minds from around the globe. As we enter the final year of the campaign, we need your help to close it triumphantly.”
The South Hampton Roads campaign celebration was Rowe’s first since becoming the university’s 28th president last year.
Since the start of the campaign, more than $864 million has been raised, including $61 million in the South Hampton Roads area, which includes the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth.
Scholarships — the university’s top campaign priority — and student, faculty support and wellness were the focus of the celebration, which featured interactive sessions with students and faculty. The university has secured nearly $319 million for scholarships and professorships since July 2011. In South Hampton Roads, more than $21 million has been raised toward scholarships.
In featured videos, Jim Hixon J.D. ’79, M.L.T. ’80, P ’08, H. Elizabeth “Bee” McLeod ’83, M.B.A. ’91 and J. Goodenow “Goody” Tyler III, an honorary alumnus, shared the importance of advancing William & Mary now and in the future through giving back.
Norfolk residents and event co-hosts McLeod and Tyler provided a significant gift toward the construction and interior space of the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center, which opened in 2018. The center represents the ongoing commitment by the university to enhance student health and wellness services. McLeod and Tyler recently made another commitment creating a multi-million dollar endowment for wellness programs.
The Hixon family created the Hixon Family Scholarship Endowment to afford students from Africa the opportunity to attend William & Mary. The Hixon family recently expanded their endowment to fully fund the education of two Hixon scholars from Africa. Their gift is the first to cover all educational expenses for international students at the university. Jim Hixon J.D. '79, M.L.T. '80 has also recently endowed a scholarship at William & Mary Law School.
Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, chair of For the Bold, highlighted some of the many other opportunities made possible by the campaign, including 11 new endowments for coaching positions, 38 new funds for professorships and faculty support, 73 new pieces of science equipment for innovative research and 437 scholarships, which afford more than 700 students with the opportunity to attend William & Mary.
“These are only a portion of what is being funded through our For the Bold campaign,” Gerdelman said. “It is all possible because of private support; because of the generosity of many of you in this room tonight.”
Alumni, parents and friends in the South Hampton Roads area are making a significant difference in the lives of W&M students and faculty through their generosity.
Ruth Jones Nichols ’96, CEO of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, first visited William & Mary as a high school student while attending the university’s former STEP summer program led by the late Dean Carroll F.S. Hardy, an honorary alumna. She said Hardy’s mentorship and the program were pivotal in her decision to attend William & Mary, one year later. It was a special relationship that ultimately led to her paying it forward to others.
“As I reflect upon my time in the summer program and my subsequent enrollment at William & Mary, I know that private support not only made my journey to and through college possible, but it also ensured that a dream deferred for my family would finally become a dream realized through me,” said Jones Nichols, who attended the university on a scholarship.
Jones Nichols and others recently established the Carroll F.S. Hardy Scholarship Endowment to afford the next generation of W&M students the same world-class education they received.
Last summer, Virginia Beach-based philanthropist and honoary W&M alumna Jane P. Batten also made a gift to launch the Raymond A. Mason School of Business Center for Online Learning. Batten’s gift, one of the largest gifts ever given to a business school in support of online learning, enables the significant expansion of these programs at W&M.
Norfolk couple Penny Harper Meredith ’73 and Peter Meredith, co-hosts of the event and parents of a W&M graduate, shared their story of supporting scholarships at the university. The Merediths’ allegiance to William & Mary runs deep — their combined family includes 12 William & Mary alumni. They announced that they increased the amount of the endowed scholarship they started in honor of Penny’s family.
“Penny and I believe so strongly in scholarships that we have made a commitment to double the size of the Harper Scholarship fund,” Peter said. “This way it can have twice the impact.”
They also reminded the audience that everyone is needed to finish the campaign strong.
“The goals of this campaign are strengthening alumni engagement, 40 percent annual alumni giving and raising $1 billion dollars. William & Mary needs your help reaching these goals. Whether you have given previously, or haven’t yet made your first gift, please join us and help us get the campaign over the finish line.”