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Pay It Forward: Family Matters

Student Center gift honors generational ties

The first time Alice Hilseweck Ball ’61 and her husband, Byrd, (pictured above) saw design plans for Randolph College’s Student Center renovation project, they knew it was the right thing for the College and its students.

“I want this place to be a revitalizing center for student life, a place where all of the wonderful parts of our College can flourish,” said Alice Ball, a former College trustee who has received national recognition for her work to help battered women, foster children, and young girls. “When you are a student in college, you go to class and do all of that work, and you are always thinking about graduation. But the things that stick with you—the things that help you mature—are those yeasty discussions at 11 at night when everyone has papers due and you are still talking back and forth. This is a place where that can happen.”

Byrd and Alice Ball’s major contribution to the $6 million Student Center renovation project will help Randolph College redesign and expand the current facility to better meet student needs. For Alice, whose mother (Helen Ainsworth Hilseweck ’37), grandmother (Agnes Ainsworth McCarley, Class of 1910), sister (Barbara Hilseweck Wong ’65), and great-aunt (Helen W. Ainsworth, Class of 1910) all attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, the contribution is a way of both making life better for Randolph students and acknowledging her family members. Her husband believes the current project is a great way to honor his wife.

“Randolph College has been something that’s important to us,” said Byrd, a retired general manager for IBM. “I’ve seen the impact it has had on Alice, her sister, and her mother. They have each made a tremendous contribution in their own way to the world. They are strong, good citizens, and they have disproved all of the myths about women and leadership.”

Alice, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with Byrd and has two grown sons, vividly remembers when the current Student Center housed one of the College’s dining halls and a few gathering spots where students played cards or talked. “It’s time for there to be a real place for people to gather on campus,” she said. “We need to have a space available that works for students in the 21st century.

“It’s exciting and a blessing that we have the opportunity to respond to this need and make it a reality,” Alice added. “As the College has negotiated its way through the last 100 years or so, it has maintained its basic thrust and its dedication to people’s individual development. I think Randolph College is a jewel and a treasure.”

Her husband agreed. “There’s something special about that school on Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg that is different from other schools,” Byrd said. “People come out of there changed. That makes it easy to support.”