Campaign Success Washington and Lee Concludes $542 Million Capital Campaign

Published July 15, 2015 by Brian Eckert

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, concluded its seven-year campaign on June 30, raising $542.5 million, 8 percent more than the $500 million goal.

“Honor Our Past, Build Our Future: The Campaign for Washington and Lee” is believed to be the second-largest by a liberal arts college. It was launched during one of the country’s worst economic periods but successfully followed its original timeline and campaign plan.

“We were confident in our plan and potential,” said Dennis W. Cross, vice president for university advancement. “The university’s 2007 strategic plan was not going away and, in fact, became more important than ever. We knew hesitating would hurt momentum and delay or sidetrack the fulfillment of strategic priorities.”

The campaign focused on five areas: scholarships and financial aid; faculty support and competitive compensation; programs that foster learning, engagement and character; selected renovations and new facilities; and growth of the Annual Fund.

Accomplishments of the campaign include:

  • securing gifts and commitments for W&L’s endowment, accounting for 61 percent of the total raised. The university’s ranking in endowment per student increased from 38 to 25 among all American colleges and universities. The market value of the endowment was $1.485 billion at the end of May 2015.
  • increasing the role of philanthropy in the university’s budget. Income from endowments and annual giving now account for 48 percent of the annual operating budget, compared to 38 percent from net tuition and fees.
  • improving access and affordability for students through the growth in endowments for scholarships. Contributions increased W&L’s financial aid 2.25 times from the start of the campaign. The largest campaign goal was financial aid. The campaign secured more than $156 million for financial aid.
  • increasing faculty compensation to the mean of W&L’s peer institutions, the top 25 national liberal arts colleges. Faculty compensation was 15 percent less than peer colleges at the beginning of the campaign.
  • receiving the university’s first endowed and named deanship; 19 new named, endowed professorships, of which 15 benefited existing faculty positions; and 10 named, endowed term professorships recognizing outstanding mid-level faculty
  • building support of the School of Law’s innovative Third-year Program. The School of Law exceeded its $35 million goal in the campaign.
  • endowing the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, the nation’s first undergraduate program focused on poverty studies
  • establishing through new endowments the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics and the J. Lawrence Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship
  • revitalizing the Spring Term, when undergraduates take one intensive, four-week course that might include international study
  • creating the Integrative and Quantitative Center to foster state-of-the-art collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research
  • renovating Wilson Field, home of W&L football, track and field, and men’s lacrosse; the main floor of Leyburn Library; and law school space in Lewis Hall
  • building the W&L Hillel House and the Center for Global Learning
  • creating enhanced indoor athletics and recreation space, including the renovation of iconic Doremus Gym and the construction of a natatorium
  • renovating and restoring the five buildings of The Colonnade, the historic core of campus. The Colonnade goal of $50 million, including an endowment for future maintenance, joined indoor athletic facilities, as the largest facility goal of the campaign.
  • increasing Annual Fund contributions 46 percent during the campaign and exceeding record $7, $8, $9, and $10 million goals. Annual undergraduate participation in giving increased from 49.9 percent to more than 54 percent, and 77 percent of solicitable undergraduate alumni and 63 percent of law alumni made at least one gift to the university during the campaign.

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio expressed his appreciation for all those who made the campaign a success. “We have much to celebrate,” he said. “The generous support of our alumni and friends demonstrates both their loyalty to and confidence in the University.”

Philip W. Norwood of Charlotte, North Carolina, rector emeritus and a member of the Class of 1969, and Warren A. Stephens of Little Rock, Arkansas, a member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Class of 1979, served as campaign co-chairs.