by Jennifer Page Wall
William & Mary has raised nearly $150 million for scholarships as part of its For the Bold campaign, with generous support from alumni like Sally Ives Gore ’56, who recently made a $2 million commitment benefiting the 1693 Scholars program. Her support is emblematic of the way scholarships can change lives, which Gore knows firsthand.
Gore is a former human resources executive at W.L. Gore & Associates. Her son, Chris Coons, is the junior senator from Delaware in the U.S. Congress. She has overcome hardships to get to where she is today and scholarships played an important role in helping her and her family lead lives of remarkable achievement and success.
Now she is giving back so that others can pursue their aspirations and attend the university that helped shape the woman she has become — a compassionate philanthropist and member of numerous organizations that provide opportunities for young people. For Gore, W&M provided a strong foundation for developing leadership skills that she continues to put to use today.
“We face great challenges in the world today that need to be resolved by kind, well-educated and wise leaders. I cannot think of a better way to invest my money than in scholarships for bright students to advance their education and attend college,” says Gore. “Scholarships can change a person’s life forever. I hope my gifts can give students today the same wonderful experience I had at William & Mary.”
After Gore graduated, she became an elementary school teacher for several years before leaving her job to have a family. Gore says, “In the 1960s, society frowned upon women working after they had a baby.”
For 10 years, she stayed home to raise three children and then decided to pursue an advanced degree in psychology at the University of Delaware.
Without financial assistance, Gore would not have been able to attend. With the help of a donor, she was offered a full scholarship. She earned her master’s degree and went on to become an accomplished psychologist and human resources executive.
“I worked full-time, taught piano on the side for extra income and raised three kids at the same time as getting my advanced degree. I could not have done this without financial support,” she says. “As you can imagine, this scholarship changed my life, and I am very happy that I can give back and make a difference in the lives of many other students.”
Gore’s gift will do just that. Students selected as 1693 Scholars represent the very best of William & Mary’s entire applicant pool. These scholarships, awarded to both in-state and out-of-state students, provide significant financial support for tuition and general fees as well as room and board.
Each 1693 Scholar works closely with distinguished faculty mentors, planning his or her own course of study and enjoying access and support reserved at most universities exclusively for graduate students. They also take part in special events and programs, including meetings with leading scientists, artists, politicians and humanitarians of our time who regularly visit campus. There are currently 25 students in the 1693 Scholars program today.
“Sally is a role model for all of us — her story lifts us up and provides hope to others facing hurdles in life,” says Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, campaign chair. “I am greatly inspired by this story, this gift and Sally’s generosity. I am also incredibly moved that she is helping so many others achieve their dreams. I can’t thank Sally enough.”
Gore wasn’t the only one in her family to receive a scholarship. Her son, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, was also a recipient of the Truman Scholarship, a highly competitive federal scholarship granted to U.S. college juniors for demonstrated leadership potential and commitment to public service.
“In today’s world, it is hard for middle-class families to afford college,” adds Gore. “It makes a lot of sense for me to give to this area because William & Mary is a premier institution which is doing a great job creating citizens who make a difference in the world. To be able to give this gift to someone so that they can access this kind of education is simply wonderful.”
Vice President of University Advancement Matthew T. Lambert ’99 adds, “Sally’s generosity continues to have a profound impact on the lives of many William & Mary students. Her dedication to the university and to helping others achieve their educational goals is establishing a legacy of compassion consistent with our core values and mission.”
Gore has previously given to the 1693 Scholars program as well as to the Kappa Kappa Gamma renovation project. She founded William & Mary’s child care facility, which carries her name. In 2003, she was appointed by former Gov. Mark Warner LL.D. ’02 to serve on the Board of Visitors and was a member of the Campaign for William & Mary’s Steering Committee. She also served on the university’s Foundation board for six years. In 1998, she received the Alumni Medallion, which recognizes professional accomplishments, leadership, dedication to the community and commitment to their alma mater.
Her philanthropic energies today are focused on support for the advancement of women and girls in the United States and in third-world countries. At every turn, Gore is committed to making lives better, one person at a time.