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Giving Societies

Randolph College has a number of giving societies that recognize the dedicated donors who support the College at all levels of giving. The most popular being the Conway Bell society, which for over 100 years, has been a symbol of communication, history, honor, unity, and tradition to Randolph-Macon Woman’s College alumnae. Today, it continues to ring for Randolph College students and to summon all to support our College.

The Conway Society recognizes alumnae, parents, and friends who make leadership gifts of $1,000 or more to the College. On a special day, those donors are recognized by ringing the Conway Bell in their honor. We invite you to join this community of donors. Your commitment strengthens the financial position of the College, allowing us to achieve our primary mission – to provide a stellar academic experience in the liberal arts and sciences for young women and men at Randolph College.

The Conway Society recognizes alumnae, parents, and friends of Randolph College who make total gifts of $1,000 or more annually, and it honors those whose cumulative lifetime giving totals $100,000 or more. Younger alumnae are recognized for annual gifts of $100 to $999.

Annual Giving Societies

Chilhowie – $50,000 and above

The distinctive Chilhowie bricks in the restored front campus walk were made at a brick plant, opened in 1890, in Chilhowie, Virginia and were therefore probably installed early in the College’s history. They were hand-made from the same southwest Virginia clay that early settlers used to make pottery. The production of Chilhowie brick tapered off by 1910 due to industrial innovations and a decline in clay resources. There are at least 24 known brick patterns, Randolph’s being one of the most common. Chilhowie brick was used throughout Virginia from Bristol to Norfolk and sightings have been reported as far away as London and Paris.

Wisteria – $25,000 – $49,999

In the first decade of the College’s history, landscaping of the campus was steadily improved and beautified with the planting of maples along the main driveway, dogwoods on the eastern slope of front campus, and magnolias flanking Main Hall. Twining shrubs of lavender wisteria that frame the entrance of Main Hall were planted in 1899 and quickly became a sentimental icon, even depicted in the flower-bordered College china pattern used for decades in the dining halls and now collectors’ items. The wisteria’s showy color and fragrance welcomes all spring visitors to campus.

The Dell – $10,000 – $24,999

The Dell, the College’s natural outdoor theatre, has been the venue for the Greek plays since 1909. A flagstone stage, designed to duplicate the exact dimensions of the stage in Epidauras, was built in1939 on the anniversary of the twenty-fifth theatrical production and dedicated to Professor of Greek Miss Mabel Whiteside, who taught from 1904 to 1954. The Whiteside Memorial fund, established in 1960, along with other gifts, made possible the terracing of the hillside facing the stage and the construction of eleven tiers of flagstone seats for 1,000. Completed in1965, it was formerly dedicated as The Mabel Kate Whiteside Amphitheatre in Miss Mabel’s memory. The Dell continues to be a beautiful and vibrant part of the campus, the scene of outdoor concerts, performances, and Commencements since 1969. The tradition of performing Greek plays, discontinued in the mid-1950s, was revived in 2000 with the staging of Antigone under the direction of Associate Professor of Classics Amy R. Cohen.

1891 – $1,891 to $4,999

Randolph College was officially founded as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College on March 10, 1891, although it wasn’t opened to students until September 14, 1893. The Randolph-Macon Board of Trustees, incorporated in 1830, founded the original men’s college in Boydton, Virginia. Sixty years later, under the leadership of Dr. William Waugh Smith, the Randolph-Macon System of colleges and preparatory schools was established. The site of the future R-MWC campus was given by the Rivermont Land Company of Lynchburg after initial plans to locate in Ashland (where the men’s college had moved) were abandoned. The city in the late 19th Century was considered very wealthy and prosperous. Local citizens raised $100,000 to establish an endowment for the institution.

Conway Bell – $1,000 to $1,890*

The name Conway has been associated with the College since 1905 when the bell in the tower above Main Hall was named for P.V.D. Conway, a College trustee and father of an R-MWC student. Made in 1855, it originally hung in the tower of old St. Paul’s Church at Seventh and Church Streets but had not been rung for a decade and was for sale. It weighed 900 pounds. Dr. William Waugh Smith’s poem, “When Conway Calls,” was written for the installation. From then on, it was used regularly to announce classes, exams, and special occasions. The College’s first giving society, The Conway Club, was established in 1967. Now, the new Conway Society embodies this beloved symbol that alumnae treasure, remembering its melodious ring from their days on campus.

*The Young Conway Society recognizes annual gifts from recent graduates. There are two tiers to qualify, $100 to $499 for donors who have graduated within the last five years and $500 to $999 for donors who have graduated within the last six to ten years.

Lifetime Giving Societies

Macon – $10,000,000 and above

The Randolph-Macon System of colleges and preparatory schools was named for two pre-Civil War statesmen: John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia and Nathaniel Macon of Warrenton, North Carolina. It was not unusual in that era for colleges to be named for statesmen and famous persons. Mr. Randolph and Mr. Macon were close friends but were never affiliated in any way with the schools. Until the latter years of the 19th Century, the name Randolph Macon was not hyphenated.

William Waugh Smith – $5,000,000 to $9,999,999

Dr. William Waugh Smith, R-MWC’s first president, envisioned a “college where our young women may obtain an education equal to that given in our best colleges for young men and under environments in harmony with the highest ideals of womanhood.” While at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Dr. Smith petitioned his Board of Trustees for the admission of women to the college. After being denied several times, he led a movement to establish a college for women where they could receive an equivalent education. He was offered land in Lynchburg, Virginia for such a college, and in 1893 Randolph-Macon Woman’s College opened to its first students.

Vita Abundantior – $1,000,000 to $4,999,999

The College motto is translated as “the life more abundant.” It expresses a commitment to integrated living and learning as a foundation for meaningful lives characterized by a lifelong joy in learning. Roberta D. Cornelius, author of The History of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, published in 1951, commented, “The conservation of the best elements in the heritage from the past and progress toward greater opportunity is the principle that the College has heretofore observed and that will likewise govern it in the future.”

Founder’s Society- $500,000 to $999,999
President’s Society – $100,000 to $499,99

Other Giving Societies

Ivy – Recognizes donors with five or more years of consecutive giving

In the early years of the College and continuing through the 1950s, the planting of ivy on the front campus and along The Red Brick Wall was a graduation tradition. The campus bricks looked terribly bare and exposed in the early days before formal landscaping. Classes were encouraged to plant ivy as part of campus beautification and modeled the Ivy League colleges which had set the tone with their vine-laden historic buildings. Engraved cornerstones in many of the College’s buildings commemorate Ivy Days of the past. Over time, the College realized that ivy actually damages bricks and mortar. Hence, Ivy Day came to an end and most of the ivy was removed during brick pointing. The ivy on The Red Brick Wall was removed in the early 1970s.

Legacy Society – Recognizes those alumnae, family, and friends who have informed the College of its inclusion in their estate plans.

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