Bert '83 and Wyn Ponder '16Volunteering for the Annual Fund is a Family Affair
For Bert Ponder '83, of Atlanta, and his daughter, Wyn '16, volunteering for Washington and Lee's Annual Fund has become a family tradition. Bert serves W&L as the chair of the Annual Fund, while Wyn is one of five lead class agents for the Class of 2016.
Although Wyn is now delighted to have followed in her father's footsteps by attending W&L, she did not always envision spending her undergraduate days in Lexington. "At first, I wanted to attend a big school, and when my dad would urge me to consider W&L, I would brush it off," she says. By the end of her junior year, however, Wyn realized that W&L was the place for her, although she tried to keep it a secret from her dad. She applied regular decision and found out she was admitted one afternoon when her parents asked her to get something out of her vehicle. When Wyn got to the driveway, she found a Trident decal on her car. She was thrilled when her parents ran outside to congratulate her on the acceptance. Wyn has not regretted her decision to enroll at W&L, and cites her wonderful friendships and the close relationships she's made with faculty as her favorite aspects of the W&L experience.
Bert agrees that the outstanding faculty is one component of the W&L experience that has not changed since his student days in the early '80s. "The beauty of W&L is that it hasn't changed," he says. To Bert, about the only thing that is different is that "the students are smarter, but they are still well-rounded, good kids."
As well as supporting the Annual Fund at a leadership level as members of the President's Society, both Bert and Wyn devote a great deal of time to volunteering for the Annual Fund.
In his role as Annual Fund chair, Bert serves as the primary alumni liaison with the Annual Giving Office and lends support to the university through his dedication to raising unrestricted current operating dollars from W&L's undergraduate and law alumni, non-alumni parents and friends. An important aspect of his role as chair is motivating and supporting the team of approximately 150 class agent volunteers. He previously served W&L as a class agent, as co-chair of his 25th reunion, and as a member of his 30th reunion committee. Those earlier volunteer experiences taught him that service to W&L is fun and not as daunting as one may think. Says Bert, "I have really enjoyed connecting with classmates and other friends during the course of my volunteer work for the W&L Annual Fund."
Wyn was inspired to give back to W&L through volunteering for the Annual Fund after realizing how much W&L means to her father. As a senior class agent, she is one of five students who chaired the 2016 senior gift campaign, which has already set new university records for the number of members in the Presidents' Society and overall class participation. "Being involved with the senior gift as a class agent has really helped me see the overall love my class has for W&L. It is clear to me that giving back to W&L and showing that they care about our experience here is very important to my classmates," said Wyn.
Skylar Beaver, director of annual giving, remarks: "The Annual Giving Office is truly grateful for the Ponder family's dedication to Washington and Lee. We hope that both Bert and Wyn will continue to serve as volunteers on behalf of the Annual Fund for years to come."
The 2015-16 fiscal year ends on June 30. To make a gift to the Annual Fund, please visit support.wlu.edu/af.
In Action People and Programs
At Washington and Lee, leadership and integrity go way back-and hand in hand. Grounded in the timeless ideals of its legendary namesakes, the Washington and Lee community thrives on an ethic of honor and civility. An air of respect enables frank debate, resulting in a culture of open exchange and intellectual freedom. The revered, student-administered Honor System creates ideal conditions for an education based on integrity and trust. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, most buildings are open 24 hours a day, and students respect each other's personal belongings.
Washington and Lee also places high value on equipping its students to assume leadership roles in college and beyond--helping them carry forward our rich institutional legacy. Members of the faculty publish extensively on topics related to leadership and honor. Students interested in fostering their leadership skills will find countless opportunities on campus, in student organizations, student government and athletics, as well as programs and events like the Leadership Development Program and the Women's Leadership Summit. The first national college honor society to recognize leadership and extracurricular service, Omicron Delta Kappa, was founded and continues to thrive at W&L, and has spread to more than 300 other campuses.
To encourage a new generation of outstanding scholars, leaders and ethical citizens, the University recently created both the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity and the Mudd Center for Ethics. Funded by a $100 million gift from a W&L alumnus, the Johnson Program awards full tuition, room and board for about 10 percent of each class, endows two professorships, brings distinguished speakers to campus, and provides generous research stipends to students during the summer. The Mudd Center, established by a gift from the distinguished, award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, Class of 1950, provides a forum for dialogue, teaching and research about important ethical issues in public and professional life among students, faculty and staff. No wonder high numbers of Washington and Lee students rise to positions of prominence in their communities and around the world.
At a Glance Facts and Figures
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