By Ashley K. Speed
More than 100 members of the Class of 1967 celebrated their 50th Reunion in April. The class collectively raised nearly $18 million to fund the expansion of the Alumni House and a scholarship endowment that will help generations of talented students afford the opportunity to attend William & Mary. Classmates also made gifts supporting numerous programs spanning the university.
“The Class of 1967 gift will have an enormous impact on the William & Mary community,” said President Taylor Reveley. “Fiftieth reunions are joyous occasions not just for reunited classmates, but also for their alma mater. They make clear that William & Mary lives and breathes across the decades. Reunions remind us that people are the heart of the university.”
The scholarship provides support for juniors and seniors facing financial challenges that impact their ability to attend William & Mary; the class first established the scholarship on the occasion of their 25th reunion.
“William & Mary, like many other universities, depends on philanthropy to advance its mission,” said 50th Reunion Chair Theresa “Terry” Thompson ’67. “Tuition is never going to cover all educational costs, so it is important for alumni to support the university. In my view, if your William & Mary education propelled you to a successful life, then it’s important to give back to the next generation.”
In honor of their support of the Alumni House expansion project, the new business center and lounge will be named after the class, which had a 43 percent giving participation rate. The renovation will provide additional space for events, programming and staff. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2018 and end in fall 2019.
“We lived in a fairly interesting time,” said Stuart Spirn ’67, J.D. ’70, reunion committee member. “We graduated during the summer of love. There was the Vietnam War, science was advancing, there were no personal computers and we had to collect IBM punch cards to register for classes. Looking back, there were a lot of things that were different. I remember when President John F. Kennedy was shot our freshman year and everything just about stopped in Williamsburg.”
While being on the serene campus of William & Mary brought a sense of security for the Class of 1967, the Kennedy assassination was a moment that took a bit of their innocence away and thrust them into the reality of life in the 1960s. But like most class eras, tragedy is often balanced by lighter and joyous occasions. The musical variety TV show “Hootenanny” was broadcast from the former Adair Gymnasium. It was such a popular show, that students protested when the university initially declined to let the show visit campus.
Reunion Co-chair Shelby M. Hawthorne ’67, M.ED. ’75 recalled “Hootenanny’s” visit to campus along with countless other moments at William & Mary. Hawthorne has never been that far from William & Mary since graduation. She and her husband, Randy Hawthorne ’67, J.D. ’70, M.L.T. ’71, get together with about a dozen classmates every week to have dinner at Paul’s Deli. Hawthorne described her William & Mary friends as family. That bond has grown stronger over the years, making her William & Mary experience invaluable. She believes that in order for others to have similar experiences at William & Mary alumni must give back.
“When we were in school the state supported a large percentage of the College’s operating budget and now it’s approximately 10 percent,” Hawthorne said. “If alumni don’t give, there is no College. Everyone should pick what they are passionate about and support it.”