ALICE & HUGH STALLARD ... Moving Longwood A Giant Step Forward
"I have always felt good about my decision to attend Longwood," Alice, a '59 graduate, says. "My Longwood experience prepared me for most things that have happened in my life since college. It prepared me well for the classroom experiences I have had as a teacher, substitute and volunteer. I gained a great deal of self-esteem at Longwood because people there want students to succeed and are willing to help ... This success gave me confidence to face challenges outside of college and has made it easier for me as I have moved around the state, making new friends and finding my own niche in life. Longwood helped me ease into the real world where competition is a constant."
She is quick to add: "It was also a plus that Hugh went to Hampden-Sydney."
Hugh grew up in the Presbyterian Home, an orphanage in Lynchburg. At the time, the superintendent of The Home was an alumnus and Board member at Hampden-Sydney College, a Presbyterian college. Hugh was encouraged to attend Hampden-Sydney and was thankful to receive much-needed scholarship assistance.
"I learned early on that an education was the most important thing I could give myself," Hugh says. "There were many people who would help you achieve this if you tried hard enough. I knew Hampden-Sydney was a great school and produced some very successful people. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity, and it has been a large influence in my life."
Both Alice and Hugh graduated from their respective colleges in the Class of 1959 and were married that summer. Now, almost 43 years later, they boast of raising three sons who have completed school and have their own careers. Alice and the children moved around Virginia with Hugh as he pursued an extremely successful career with the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company. They settled permanently in Richmond in 1977. Several years ago, Hugh retired as president and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic - Virginia (Verizon's predecessor).
It's only fitting that the Stallards, who have been a team since high school, have made a joint commitment to chair a turning point: The Campaign for Longwood - the College's first comprehensive fund-raising effort, with a goal of $32 million.
President Cormier played a big part in the decision for the Stallards to take leading roles in the campaign, Alice says. "I was Rector of the (Longwood College) Board of Visitors for two years. Those were the first two years of Dr. Cormier's presidency, and we saw a great deal of newness at Longwood. She brought great ideas and progress to the College. Much was accomplished ... Everyone at Longwood contributed to the efforts of redefining our goals and mission. It resulted in a stronger, improved Longwood, with a stronger and improved faculty and administration.
"We knew that Dr. Cormier was the right person to lead the College in a campaign. We knew this would be 'a turning point' for Longwood and looked forward to being part of it. It was natural for me to want to help since Longwood is my alma mater."
And, of course, memories of her days at Longwood keep drawing Alice back: "Circus," the competition between classes; singing Christmas carols in the Rotunda; friends (many of whom she continues to stay in touch with); class events and projects; May Day; the newspaper; sorority activities; Hampden-Sydney football games; fraternity parties; and favorite faculty members.
"Dr. Simpson, an English literature professor, was a favorite because she made her course come alive for me," Alice says. "Dr. French (Charlie Hop) was a favorite for all of us because he was one of those caring, involved people who had a way of making everyone feel special. Dr. Eleanor Bobbitt was a favorite also. She wasn't that much older than we were and had a nice way of relating to our problems. She was actually Miss Weddle then. It was really great to find her still involved with Longwood when I came on the Alumni Board and the Board of Visitors in the early 90s."
In contrast, Hugh does not have the attachment of being a Longwood graduate. One of the most obvious reasons Hugh decided to co-chair the campaign for Longwood is because "it is important to Alice. Both Longwood and Hampden-Sydney figure prominently into who we are together and into our life successes."
"I have been involved in many fund-raising projects," Hugh says, "but none more needed than this campaign for Longwood. This campaign will make a significant difference to everyone involved at Longwood, and it is an honor to be a part of it. I have received many questions from people about working for Longwood and not Hampden-Sydney. My answer is: 'Hampden-Sydney will always be important to me, but it doesn't mean that I can't help another deserving institution.'"
The students are the real benefactors of this campaign, according to Hugh, because Longwood will improve with added funding. "They will have more scholarship money available, they will have the benefit of bringing to their campus some of the best instructors in the country, they will enjoy better facilities and excellent programs to promote honor students."
Because they wanted to support the campaign, Alice and Hugh have contributed a significant cash gift to be used wherever it is needed most among the campaign objectives. In addition, Hugh was given a unique opportunity to give a charitable gift through an insurance policy from a board he sits on. He generously divided the gift between Longwood and Hampden-Sydney. This allowed them to endow a scholarship at Longwood via a significant deferred gift.
"Quite honestly," Hugh says, "the major amount of our giving in the past has been to my alma mater. When this campaign was being discussed, we looked at what we could do. I realized that we should be as generous to Alice's alma mater as to my own. This was an opportunity to make up for the past."
From his own life experience, Hugh realizes the importance of supporting education. "As a recipient of funding for college, I know first hand that scholarship money is imperative for a college to attract students - especially good students. Chairs and professorships will bring some of the best instructors to this campus. There are some needed capital projects that state money cannot fund. A common misbelief is that state schools are funded by the state. This may have been true 20 years ago, but not today. The Commonwealth of Virginia assists colleges less and less each year. State schools, like private ones, depend on private money for their existence in the future and to achieve their excellence."
Hugh emphasizes that a state is often judged by the quality of its state institutions of higher learning. Improving and enhancing the quality of Longwood, he says, will do the same for Virginia.
"Every individual should have the opportunity to have a quality education," he says. "We all must ensure that all of our schools are providing that opportunity. The success of our educational system is dependent on the willingness of others to get involved and make a commitment."
When Hugh and Alice aren't volunteering for Longwood, they spend a lot of time traveling around the state playing golf. Alice also enjoys bowling and collecting P. Buckley Moss prints. So, if in the next few months, Hugh and Alice invite you to play golf or to go out to eat, Longwood officials hope you will accept because the Stallards want everyone to be as excited about the future of Longwood as they are. Alice says: "Longwood educated me twice - once as an undergraduate and once as a Board member. I had no idea of the real challenges facing state schools, especially the financial challenges.
"I believe the faculty and administrators work hard to keep Longwood a place of warmth and friendliness, while at the same time making sure it is in the top tier academically with other major colleges in the region. We all need to do our part to help."