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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

An Eye to the Future

Alston Parker Watt '89

from The Bridge: Fall 2012/Winter 2013 issue

Alston Parker Watt '89Though college students tend to avoid signing up for early-morning classes, Alston parker Watt '89 says her first-year treks to an 8 a.m. Spanish class gave her the unexpected blessing of enjoying W&L's beauty and classical architecture. This experience cultivated within her an appreciation for the University's vibrant history.

"To walk down that Colonnade in the morning, when the fog is rising--it's just inspiring," says Watt, a past member of W&L's Board of Trustees. "And the environment in those classrooms has always been focused on learning."

Watt was thrilled when her family's foundation, the Williams Family Foundation, gave $1 million for the Colonnade renovation. Though the Thomasville, Ga.-based foundation typically supports charitable causes in Georgia, its interest in historic preservation and land conservation made the Colonnade project a perfect fit.

"It's a family ethos--understanding the importance of preserving and saving history so future generations can understand what things were like in the past," says Watt, the foundation's executive director, who also has personally supported the Colonnade renovation.

"My own learning experience was so influenced by those walls- I'm glad the foundation wanted to help make sure they were preserved," continues Watt. "It's about preserving the past to inform the future. It's bringing the Colonnade into the 21st century so that students in the future can learn within those walls and feel like a part of the University's history."