While reducing student loan debt has become a hot topic in this year’s presidential election, William & Mary is taking proactive steps to help many of its students access an affordable and high-caliber education by making scholarships a top priority in the For the Bold campaign. Thanks to the collective generosity of five alumni, the university has received commitments of more than $28 million in support of scholarships.
The benefactors are W. Edward Bright ’78; Kathyrn Bova McQuade ’78; Elizabeth “Bee” McLeod ’83, M.B.A. ’91; J. Goodenow “Goody” Tyler III HON ’11; and William Bailey Wilkinson ’41, J.D. ’49.
The transformational impact of scholarships is evident for Arizona native Yorick Oden-Plants ’19. Oden-Plants, a 1693 Scholar, chose William & Mary over Rice and Cornell universities because of the merit and need-based scholarships he received.
“One thing that makes my experience a little different is that I’m an out-of-state student,” Oden-Plants says. “The 1693 Scholars Program really made it possible for me to attend William & Mary. Without something like this that reduced the cost significantly, I wouldn’t have been able to come to William & Mary.”
The 1693 scholarship is merit-based and currently goes to eight students. It is the most competitive of W&M scholarships, with the recipients selected from the entire applicant pool. The scholarship is awarded to both in-state and out-of-state students who receive significant financial support for tuition, fees, room, board and a generous grant for their undergraduate research project.
“This scholarship is specifically dedicated to attracting students who would otherwise go to an Ivy League university or the equivalent,” says Dan Cristol, a biology professor and 1693 Scholars Program director.
Oden-Plants, a sophomore, is double-majoring in computer science and environmental science and policy.
“It takes loyal donors like these five who believe in our bold vision, to assist us in helping so many talented students afford the opportunity to access a William & Mary education,” says Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, campaign chair. “We can’t thank them enough for their generosity.”
W. Edward Bright ’78
W. Edward Bright’s ’78 commitment will go to the 1693 Scholars Program. Bright, who comes from a long line of Newport News shipyard workers, was the first male in his family to attend college. He says William & Mary opened his eyes to a new world of opportunity.
“I’m very interested in merit-based scholarships,” Bright says. “I think it’s important for young people to be recognized and rewarded for their own achievement regardless of their parents’ wealth or lack thereof.”
Bright, of Vienna, Va., says that helping a student financially obtain a college education has value in several ways, including introducing them to fields of study and subject matters that most young people aren’t exposed to outside of a university environment.
“I think folks who receive these scholarships are extremely talented and fortunate and will be extremely fortunate in life,” Bright says. “When they are in a position where they can return the favor, I hope they support William & Mary.”
Cristol echoes Bright’s comments on the importance of giving back.
“It’s hard to believe, but there are many students out there who are so good that they are getting offers from dozens of schools — many of which are richer than we are. If we want those students to come to William & Mary, we have to offer them a scholarship,” Cristol says.
Bright, a retired corporate attorney, is the former chair of the Swem Library board of directors. He was also a board member for the College of William & Mary Foundation and the New York Auction Committee.
Kathyrn Bova McQuade ’78
Kathryn Bova McQuade ’78 says she was fortunate, her father promised to pay for her and her three siblings’ college education. Her father, who owned a wholesale fruit and vegetable distribution business, saved during her childhood to make sure he could pay for their education. His promise meant few family vacations and other luxuries growing up. His only requirement was that his children attend a state-supported college in Virginia.
“He also instilled in me the belief that your college education is a contributing factor in your professional success and therefore you should give back to that university,” says McQuade, who lives in Mesquite, Nev. “I’ve been able to do fairly well in my career and I owe a lot of that success to the sound education I received at William & Mary.”
McQuade spent over 32 years in the Railroad Industry, with executive positions at both Norfolk Southern Corp. and Canadian Pacific Railway, before retiring in 2012. She has also served as a board member on the College of William & Mary Foundation and the VIMS Council.
McQuade’s commitment will be endowed need-based scholarships. Her commitment is an extension of the work she does at her foundation. Established in 2013, the Kathryn McQuade Foundation aims to lift women and children out of poverty. The foundation’s mission is “Striving to make sustainable improvements in women and children’s rights, education and welfare.”
“When you help people access education, you give them a broader view of what they can accomplish to not only help themselves, but the people around them, their community and their country,” McQuade says. “I want them to use their scholarship for good, to make the world a little bit better.”
Elizabeth “Bee” McLeod ’83, M.B.A ’91
J. Goodenow “Goody” Tyler III HON ’11
Elizabeth “Bee” McLeod ’83 M.B.A ’91 and J. Goodenow “Goody” Tyler III HON ’11 have made a commitment to fund two need-based scholarships for out-of-state and in-state students.
“There are academically qualified students — both in-state and out-of-state — who may not be able to attend William & Mary due to their financial situation,” McLeod says. “We want to do what we can to take some of those barriers down.”
The couple believe that lending financial assistance to students is a necessary way to support the quality education that William & Mary affords students. They hope the gift will be an incentive for the recipients to pay it forward.
“They have an opportunity to attend one of the finest colleges in the country,” Tyler says. “When they graduate, we hope they remember that they were able to attend because they received a scholarship and they will think about making a gift to the College themselves so that others can follow in their footsteps.”
Mcleod and Tyler, who live in Norfolk, Va., also recently gave a $1.5 million gift for the Mcleod Tyler Wellness Center. The center is expected to open in 2017.
McLeod and Tyler both currently serve on the For the Bold Campaign Steering Committee, and McLeod is a new trustee on the College of William & Mary Foundation. She also previously served as the chair for the Swem Library Board.
“Each of us is only going to be on this planet for a certain amount of time,” Tyler says. “There are many causes you can give to but one that we believe is sustainable beyond our lives and generations to come is a university. William & Mary is our university of choice for giving. There will always be a need for bright students who can’t afford to go to college to get assistance in order to get an education to move mankind forward.”
William Bailey Wilkinson ’41, J.D.’49
The late William Bailey Wilkinson ’41, J.D. ’49 created an endowment supporting need-based scholarships. Wilkinson was extremely involved in William & Mary organizations and events including the Order of the White Jacket, Olde Guarde Day, Homecoming and Charter Day activities.
He worked with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABC) of the Commonwealth of Virginia, where he began his career as an ABC official in 1949. He retired from the same agency in 2001 as its board secretary.
Wilkinson’s commitment along with the commitments of other donors fulfills a critical and essential priority for the university. These scholarships give talented students access to an extraordinary education that places them in a position to not only compete in the real world, but excel on the global stage.
In fiscal year 2016 alone, more than 5,300 donors contributed to scholarships, helping the university raise more than $68 million for this priority alone.