from The Bridge: Fall/Winter 2011 issue
While these donors did not attend W&L, as parents, they feel like part of the University family. They have provided significant gifts out of their affection for W&L, and out of gratitude for the tremendous personal and intellectual growth they've witnessed in their children.
Ellen and Frank Donnelly P'11 are part of this special group. "It's easy to be a parent at W&L," says Frank, who is president at Wärtsilä North America, in Houston. "Everyone there loves to see you and wants you to be involved."
As a tribute to their daughter Kate's 2011 graduation, the couple gave a generous gift to the Friends of Rockbridge Endowment, which supports the Shepherd Poverty Program, an important part of Kate's overall experience at the University. A leader in the interdisciplinary program, she participated in numerous projects throughout the Lexington area, and spent a summer in Camden, N.J., working on community development.
"Through that program, we saw Kate grow as an individual," says Frank. "All of the opportunities she was given through that program provided her an education that was a next step beyond what happens in the classroom. We became enthusiastic because of her enthusiasm. Through her, we saw how much good an individual can do and how much fulfillment it brought to her life and to ours."
More than seven years ago, during their first visit to campus, Jan and Don Parker P'11, of Houston, were struck by their first view of the Colonnade. Now they have given $25,000 to the Colonnade renovation in honor of their son Jameson's 2011 graduation, because, they say, that historic edifice "represents W&L to him."
"We're certainly aware of how much it takes to restore historic buildings, so we thought this was a good way to support the University," says Jan, a national account manager with Prudential Insurance Company of America.
"We're grateful to play a part in ensuring that future generations can study in an up-to-date environment that maintains the historical flavor that makes W&L unique," adds Don, senior vice president, business capital, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The couple is pleased that Jameson received a quality education and credit his W&L degree for opening the door to his first professional job, with McJunkin Red Man Corp., in Houston. Now, they want to help W&L continue providing outstanding experiences for students.
"Giving is a way to bridge the gap between what tuition covers and the actual costs," says Jan, noting that the couple was able to stretch their gift dollars by taking advantage of Prudential's Matching Gifts Program. "We feel like giving has given us deeper connections to the University."
Peter and Elizabeth Wareing P'98, also of Houston, feel that bond with W&L. Peter has been enamored with the University ever since he listened to the welcome speech of then President John Wilson during the first Parents Weekend he ever attended with his daughter, Laura Wareing Wheless '98. Wilson, he recalls, spoke about W&L's commitment to, above all, instilling in students a devotion to and appreciation for the Honor System and "valuing truth and virtue over everything.
"I was captivated by that speech and became very interested in W&L," says Peter, a partner in Wareing, Athon and Co. "I hope future W&L students will learn that personal integrity and honor are the most valuable things you can have-along with getting a great education."
The Wareings gave $25,000 for the Houston-Fox Benton Scholarship Fund in honor of trustee Harry Phillips '72. Not only are the Wareings longtime friends of Phillips and his wife, Kathy, but the couples also share three grandchildren through the marriage of the Wareings' son William to Phillips' daughter Reed.
"Harry is dedicated to W&L, and we felt like he deserved to be honored for his efforts for the school," Peter says.
George and Cathy Morgan P'10, P'15, who appreciate W&L's commitment to developing the whole individual, made a significant pledge to the Parents Fund in honor of their son George's 2010 graduation and daughter Sarah's matriculation this past fall.
The Morgans appreciate the University's emphasis on service to others, personal integrity and honor. They are grateful that W&L encouraged their son-who had a passion for history but wanted to pursue a career in business-to pursue diverse interests simultaneously. Most of all, they are impressed with the loyalty alumni demonstrate to each other and to W&L. Their son, for example, was hired after graduation by Harris Williams, in Richmond, a company founded by Chris Williams '85, which actively recruits on campus.
"This unique culture needs to be invested in so that it can be sustained for future generations," says George, a partner with Ridgemont Equity Partners, in Dallas. "Hopefully the University will be able to continue attracting the caliber of professors and students that make it such a unique place."