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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

W&L Rector Leads Off With a Bang

Makes $5M Gift on First Day of Campaign

from The Bridge: Fall 2009 issue

W&L's new fundraising campaign may be in its quiet phase, but Rector Don Childress '70 made sure it started on the right note. On July 1, 2008, the first official day of Honor Our Past, Build Our Future: The Campaign for Washington and Lee, Childress made a $5 million gift.

"I was pleased to invest in what will be an important campaign for Washington and Lee," said Childress. His gift will help fund the priorities of W&L's 10-year strategic plan. "There are many needs and many opportunities in our educational priorities, and they all cost money. I thought it was my obligation as an alumnus and as a trustee to step up with this gift."

Although Childress has yet to designate $1.75 million of his gift, he designated the first $3.25 million with laser-like focus. Half of Childress' gift establishes two new professorships at W&L--the J. Donald Childress Professorship in Foreign Languages and the Sidney Gause Childress Professorship in the Arts. These represent W&L's first two professorships dedicated solely to languages and arts--two areas the strategic plan targets as key to a 21st-century liberal arts curriculum.

In establishing the professorships, Childress boosts W&L's efforts to meet the Lenfest Challenge for Faculty Compensation.

Childress also has designated $500,000 of his gift for a challenge fund for the planned W&L Hillel House, a $4 million project to create a building for the Hillel program. The facility will help build Jewish enrollment and community life at Washington and Lee. Since July, Childress' gift spurred many new gifts for the project and helped to drive the fundraising to its successful conclusion.

Finally, Childress has designated $250,000 of his gift for the Annual Fund, as part of the Trustees' Annual Fund Challenge.

"This is a magnificent gesture on Don Childress' part," said President Ruscio. "We are extraordinarily grateful for both his leadership and vision in identifying initiatives that are so critically important to the University's future."

Visit to hear Rector Don Childress speak about why he values the arts, foreign languages and the W&L Hillel House.