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Letter to the editor regarding “Appropriately allocating funds: Athletics against academics”

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November 9, 2015

9:27 PM

A recent op-ed in the Flat Hat raised questions about the proportion of funding being raised for athletics in William & Mary’s recently announced fundraising campaign. We appreciate the questions raised by the student, and want to provide greater clarity on the overall objectives of the campaign and how we reached the goals for each area and department.

First and foremost, this is a campaign aimed at supporting our people—faculty and students—and the top priorities reflect this fact. The reality is that scholarships and teaching excellence are priorities across all schools and departments, including Athletics. To that end, nearly two-thirds of the campaign’s overall billion-dollar goal is devoted to scholarships and better support for faculty and staff. In Athletics specifically, more than half of the fundraising goal supports scholarships, coaching positions and other funds to bolster academic support services.

We do encourage them to support priorities of the campaign, but they choose where they want their gifts to have impact.

As we think about campaign priorities, it is important to remember that William & Mary does not decide where the gifts are used.   Donors decide.  We do encourage them to support priorities of the campaign, but they choose where they want their gifts to have impact.  A number of donors felt strongly about remedying the state into which Zable Stadium had fallen, and they gave the funds to pay for the work.

Our university leadership worked collaboratively with faculty, students, staff and alumni to determine fundraising goals for each school and department, and to help ensure that the most pressing needs of the university can be met. It is now the responsibility for all of us to raise private funds from donors and to explain how that philanthropy can improve the student experience.

It is worth noting that after graduation, Tribe athletes remain very committed to our alma mater. They serve in leadership roles for the university and give frequently and generously. Despite representing only 12 percent of the total alumni population, athlete alumni accounted for 29 percent of all undergraduate alumni gifts.

This will be a campus-wide effort that will require us to strengthen our already robust culture of engagement and philanthropy so that all areas of the university can have a brighter and more sustainable future.

Unlike many other departments at the university, Athletics receives no funding from the state. For this reason, private support is essential for our varsity teams to exist.  William & Mary has a varsity program that sets the standard for excellence on the field and in the classroom.  Our scholarship athletes have the highest graduation rate of those at any public university in the country, and our athletes have won more conference championships than those at any other university in the Colonial Athletic Association.

William & Mary is striving to build a strong alumni community, to achieve 40% alumni giving participation, and to raise one billion dollars to support the entire university, not just one segment of our community. This campaign will benefit the William & Mary academic experience for everyone, particularly for students and faculty. This will be a campus-wide effort that will require us to strengthen our already robust culture of engagement and philanthropy so that all areas of the university can have a brighter and more sustainable future.

Email  Matthew T. Lambert at [email protected]

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  • Matthew T. Lambert