The Latin phrase quid pro quo translates to something for something. One receives something; therefore, one gives something back. For some, making an annual gift would be an acceptable way of giving something back in gratitude for their Hampden-Sydney education.
Attorney William F. “Will” Seymour ’79 has been compelled to do—and give—more while challenging others to follow.
“My liberal arts degree from Hampden-Sydney prepared me for my career,” says Seymour, a partner in the law firm of Florance Gordon Brown in Richmond. “In Dr. Crawley’s English 101, I learned how to write and communicate—skills that I use when writing briefs, litigating in a courtroom, and speaking with clients.”
“More than receiving an excellent education,” he continues, “Hampden-Sydney taught me to be a good citizen. Each day is an opportunity to do something meaningful.”
One thing that gives Seymour’s life meaning is having rules to live by. “Hampden-Sydney has an honor code that is enforced. This aligned with the value system my parents taught me. If we don’t have ethics in our business and personal lives, we are doomed to unhappiness,” he shares.
As a government and foreign affairs major, Seymour was able to take advantage of a semester in Washington, taking courses at American University and working as a congressional intern. Coincidentally, Hampden-Sydney President Larry Stimpert participated in the same program one semester later.
Seymour’s real love was history, and he was just shy of minoring in the subject. “Ron Heinemann was one of my favorite professors, and we kept up until he passed away in 2020,” he says. At Dr. Heinemann’s memorial service, his wife Sandy arranged for some favorite students, including Seymour, to get together to share stories. “Bob Williams ’72 and I have developed a friendship as a result,” says Seymour. “This is just one of the many examples of the Hampden-Sydney brotherhood, another one of those things unique to the College that has enriched my life.”
Ensuring that the unique Hampden-Sydney experience is available for future young men is a priority for Seymour. “We need to grow our endowment to $500 million to give us security and strength in the future, allow us to maintain our high academic standards, and attract the best students,” he says. “We are halfway there; it’s an attainable goal if our alumni will do their part. If Washington and Lee can do it, so can we.”
A few years ago, Seymour worked with fellow classmates Weaver Squire, Bob Oldfield, and Tom Goode to raise $94,000 for their 35th reunion class gift—a library in the Ferguson Career Center. “I took over when my good friend Elliott Bondurant accepted a position as circuit court judge. I learned raising money is hard!”
His own experience as a recipient of financial aid his last semester at Hampden-Sydney inspired Seymour to include Hampden-Sydney in his estate plans. “I was short about $1,700 for tuition my senior year. Elliott’s father, who was Hampden-Sydney’s assistant treasurer, arranged a low-interest loan from an endowment fund so I could graduate on time. That summer I worked to pay it back and was able to start law school debt-free.”
In addition to his legacy gift, Seymour supports Hampden-Sydney through his role with Bill Bellamy as co-trustee of the Robert Leroy and Lucy Williams Atwell Foundation created by his friend and neighbor, the late Roy Atwell. Though Atwell wasn’t a Hampden-Sydney alumnus, he was most definitely considered a friend of the College.
“Roy was a nuclear physicist with a passion for politics and the liberal arts who developed a love of Hampden-Sydney later in life. Through Roy’s foundation, named for his parents, we’ve been able to endow a summer internship through the Wilson Center and, most recently, a summer collaborative research program for students and professors in the sciences. I hope we can partner again in the future as we strive to be good stewards of Mr. Atwell’s money.”
Being a good steward—and a good citizen—is evident in Seymour’s desire for Hampden-Sydney to remain both relevant and affordable to attract the best young men in the country, and a healthy endowment is vital to both.
“There aren’t many colleges that have the academics, the esteemed heritage, and the distinguished alumni we have. Hampden-Sydney is a treasure,” states Seymour. “If you don’t think big, nothing will happen.”
Perhaps another Latin phrase best sums up Seymour’s call to action: Audere est faucere. To dare is to do.
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