William & Mary celebrated its $1 billion For the Bold campaign last night against the backdrop of the nation’s capital as the university’s colors illuminated the skyline in honor of more than 20,000 alumni in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Nearly 600 of William & Mary’s most loyal supporters gathered together at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum in a remarkable showing of support for the university’s ambitious campaign. During the event, several prominent landmarks stretching from Virginia to D.C. and Maryland shined brightly in green and gold. The illuminations come on the heels of the Empire State Building and the Ferris Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier lightings that took place during campaign celebrations in New York and California, respectively.
In remarks at the event, William & Mary President Taylor Reveley highlighted the impact of scholarships support for a Northern Virginia student whose parent had lost a job due to the sequestration cuts in 2013. Reveley also told the story of a Vietnam veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, whose disability claim was denied repeatedly over the last 40 years by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The veteran, who was in attendance, credits the innovative W&M Law School and Starbucks program called Military Mondays — a program sustained by private support — in helping him successfully file his most recent claim so that he could potentially access the compensation he was denied for decades.
“This campaign is an extraordinary investment in people,” said Reveley. “We will raise more resources than any other public university of our relatively modest size has ever raised and use them to change lives for the better.”
The 324-year-old institution not only plans to raise $1 billion — a large portion of which will fund scholarships — it also aims to achieve 40 percent alumni participation. Only four other top national universities have been able to achieve this feat. William & Mary has also made it a top priority to strengthen alumni ties with one another and their alma mater.
Since the start of the For the Bold campaign, more than $700 million has been raised, including over $83 million in the Washington, D.C., area alone.
The university has set the goal of securing $100 million in the D.C. region by 2020, as part of the $1 billion campaign effort. Additionally, William & Mary needs to inspire more than 6,200 undergraduate alumni in the D.C. area to give back annually to reach 40 percent alumni participation by 2020.
“Living in the D.C. area, we all know well that throngs of people come here aspiring to achieve greatness. William & Mary prepared us well to do just that in many different forms,” said Lynn Melzer Dillon ’75, Washington, D.C. metro area campaign co-chair, in remarks during the evening. “All of the people in this room tonight, and everyone in the D.C. region who has a connection to William & Mary will determine whether or not the university is successful in its endeavors.”
Dillon joins three other alumni, Teri Dale Dungan ’88, Tom Dungan III ’88 and former William & Mary Rector Jeff Trammell ’73, in chairing the Washington, D.C., metro area campaign.
"William & Mary alumni have risen in the ranks across government, in nonprofits and in the private sector and are in positions that have enabled them to enhance and enrich the lives of millions of people around the globe," added Dillon. Among them are more than 700 alumni working on Capitol Hill and hundreds working in the tech industry in Reston, Va., and for the biomedical industry in Bethesda, Md. And nearly 2,000 D.C.-area alumni work in law.
The largest concentration of W&M alumni lives in the D.C. area — nearly 20,000 out of 100,000 alumni live there.
“William & Mary is a place where many of us found our calling in life. It is where we found our passions and purpose. It is where we met loved ones and formed lasting bonds and where we learned what it takes to lead. It is where we felt empowered to do something greater, something bigger than we ever imagined. And, where so many of us learned what it takes to be bold,” said Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, chair of the For the Bold campaign. “This campaign provides an opportunity for the entire William & Mary community to be a part of a remarkable movement and a chance to build on our collective legacy of achievement and excellence."
Young Guarde members — alumni who have graduated in the last 10 years — have been particularly active in the For the Bold campaign. In fact, over 60 percent of Young Guarde members in the D.C. area have made a gift in the last five years. This is making a big impact across campus and the university is able to advance some pretty remarkable programs and initiatives because of their enormous support, added Gerdelman. Annual gifts — of all sizes — from the Young Guarde are critical to help increase the university's margin of excellence.
“William & Mary helped inspire us to be compassionate citizens; and rooted deeply in all of us is the desire to be involved, to get in the trenches and roll up our sleeves so that we, collectively as society, can advance and overcome some of the greatest challenges before us today and tomorrow,” said Todd Stottlemyer ’85, current rector of William & Mary. “Now, more than ever before, is the time for our Tribe family to be involved; to participate in our bold endeavor so that William & Mary’s light can shine brilliantly for all time coming."
Nestled in Williamsburg, the colonial capital of Virginia, William & Mary was founded by the queen and king of England in 1693. It was the first higher education institution in the U.S. to achieve university status when William & Mary Law School, also the nation’s first, was established in 1779. It was also the first public university in the state of Virginia to admit women. There are currently 8,484 students at William & Mary, including 2,529 from the Washington, D.C., metro area.