To the Hampden-Sydney College Community:
It’s with sadness that I inform you of the passing of a remarkable leader and a much loved and admired member of our community, Dr. Walter M. Bortz III, the 23rd President of the College. President Bortz passed away in Charleston, SC, at the age of 79 with his wife Lorraine and daughter Cathy at his side.
Walter served as the College’s president from 2000 until his retirement in 2009. His priorities as president were much the same as the College’s priorities today — to have a healthy and sustainable enrollment, to harness more philanthropic support, and to strengthen the College’s physical infrastructure. During his tenure, he achieved noteworthy successes in each of these areas, increasing the size of the student body, leading the largest fundraising campaign in the College’s history, and enhancing the College’s physical spaces to include the construction of the Everett Stadium and a library that today, more than 15 years after its completion, is consistently ranked by Princeton Review as one of the finest college libraries in the United States. The surprise naming of the facility as the Walter M. Bortz III Library at his final commencement ceremony is a testament to his devoted efforts to make such an extraordinary resource a reality for our students.
It is no overstatement to say that the College’s success today on all of these fronts would not be possible without Walter’s leadership and the foundation he built. And the enduring importance and relevance of the College’s mission was undoubtedly strengthened by his devoted stewardship.
An article published in the Record immediately following his retirement details his tenure as president of Hampden-Sydney College, and I encourage you to read it. I will highlight here one quotation about Walter from that article by the late Chairman Emeritus William C. Boinest ’54: “He will be counted as one of the best.” Current Chairman of our Board of Trustees Peebles Harrison ’89 also shares his thoughts: “That Walter was an excellent president for Hampden-Sydney College was reflected in the Board’s decision to name the library after him. That he was such a wonderful person is why he will be so dearly missed.”
Details regarding the plans for a memorial service are still being finalized, but they will be shared with the community as soon as they are available. Please keep the Bortz family in your thoughts and prayers.
President, Hampden-Sydney College