Spring 2015 Issue

Connecting Past and Future

Class Ambassador Program Deepens Engagement and Philanthropy

By Ashley Murphy '15

For Ron Singleton ’73, some of the friends he met at William & Mary are the closest he has. “We grew up together at an important time in our lives,” Singleton said. “When asked what I remember most about William & Mary it is these friendships and our set of common experiences.”

Singleton wants to stay connected to William & Mary and these memories. So he volunteers. In the past, he served on his class’s 40th Reunion gift committee, helping secure more than 40 percent participation and raising over $1 million for their reunion, one of the most successful campaigns in the school’s history. Singleton believes strongly in the value of higher education and feels indebted to William & Mary for giving him the skills necessary to succeed as a student and lifelong learner.

It is because of these beliefs that Singleton is continuing his commitment to the College as a part of the Class Ambassador Program, a new volunteer initiative that will help to enrich the culture of engagement and philanthropy at William & Mary. The program aims to increase communication between the College and its alumni by contacting each alumnus/a at least once a year with hopes that more people will consider giving back to their alma mater.

Alumni giving participation rates are one of the factors that are used for annual college rankings. Although W&M has a respectable giving rate, particularly among public institutions nationally, Singleton asserts that this rate should be higher in order to help with recruitment efforts in a competitive market for the nation’s top students. Financial donations have a tremendous impact of the vitality and reputation of a W&M education, and connect past students to the College’s future.

“The Class Ambassador Program offers a wonderful opportunity for alumni to come together and work for the good of the College,” said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley.

Class ambassadors will serve as the face of the College to their former classmates, reaching out to at least 10 people of their choosing throughout the year. They will build relationships with their classmates, providing news from William & Mary, and encouraging them to support the area of the College that means the most to them. They will participate in targeted outreach periods at the end of the calendar year, One Tribe One Day, and the end of the fiscal year via phone, email, social media or in person.

Harper Lea ’01, an ambassador for the Class of 2001, has family ties to the College: her mother, grandmother and other extended family members attended W&M, and by donating she hopes to continue this legacy. “Your gift will truly make an impact no matter what the size,” Lea said. “Giving to your alma mater will mean a great deal to you in both the short and long term, and remind you of your experiences at the College.”

As an ambassador, Singleton hopes that in reaching out to his classmates several times a year, they will be more inclined to realize the value of their education and provide opportunities for current and future students. “Being a William & Mary graduate is a great honor, and with that honor comes the responsibility to support the College financially,” he said.

The ultimate goal of the program is to have 27 percent undergraduate alumni participation in fiscal year 2015, spanning from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. President Reveley hopes to achieve 40 percent undergraduate alumni participation by 2020.

“Class ambassadors form a strong network of volunteers helping to ensure William & Mary’s robust success in our time,” said President Reveley. “By bolstering class unity and spirit and encouraging classmates to support alma mater, your contributions as a class ambassador will have a powerful impact. Do think about joining this important cohort of alumni volunteers.”

For Singleton, donating to the College allows him to reflect on precious memories. The Class Ambassador Program hopes to reconnect alumni with their undergraduate experiences, and in turn, provide valuable experiences for future students.

Undergraduate alumni who would like to make a difference as class ambassadors are invited to learn more at advancement.wm.edu/ambassador.