As your Class Gift Committee we are pleased to present our selection of a class gift for our 50th Reunion in 2015. Our decision rests on over eight months of study and inquiry into the 34 projects that comprise the USMA Capital Campaign For US All. Below we describe our decision and the reasons we are excited about it. For those of you interested in the details of the process we used, we have posted on our class website [SelectionProcess.pdf] a separate report that describes the steps in the process.
Primary Gift Selection: Center for Oral History
Using the results of two class-wide surveys, insights gained from discussions with academy and AOG officials, and project ratings against a set of evaluation criteria, the committee selected the Center for Oral History (COH) as the primary 1965 Class Gift to commemorate our 50th Reunion. Our next task was to decide just where in the COH our contribution should be directed. The COH project includes several sub-projects that are enumerated in the COH brochure, which is also posted on our class website at Final-OralHistory.pdf.
To gather more information, we contacted Col Lance Betros, the Head of the History Department. His response to our query [on website at ColLanceBetrosLetter.pdf] clearly laid out the sub-projects and the rationale for their inclusion in the overall COH project. After an extended conversation with Col Betros and the receipt of his letter, the Committee unanimously and enthusiastically selected as the 50th Reunion Gift two sub-projects within the COH:
We believe this combination of projects provides the best fit for the Class because:
It allows us to continue our support of the COH, which was conceived under Bob Doughtys leadership as Head of the Department of History and which received a $25,000 gift from our class to give early traction to the concept. Since then, the COH has enjoyed growth and support from other sources. It already contains numerous interviews, including those from our own Bob Jones, Dan Christman, and Buddy Bucha. The COH website is in beta test and will be fully launched in October. We recommend going to http://www.westpointcoh.org/ and watching Bobs interview. In addition to the website, the COH has prepared a 90-minute documentary film. Both the film and the new website will be presented on October 21, 2011 during a special COH celebration to which representatives of our class has been invited.
The Viet Nam archive is a natural for our class. The tumultuous eight years following our graduation left none of us unaffected. Who better to sponsor this era than the Class of 65? Our name will appear whenever someone goes to the COH website and clicks on the Viet Nam archive. Col Betros pointed out to us that the Viet Nam archive is presently the most robust of the subject archives and he expects that it will be the most frequently visited for some time to come.
The film production studio offers us an opportunity to invest in the infrastructure of the COH and maintain its high quality operations well into the future. The studio will be housed in Thayer Hall and will be prominently represented as the Class of 65 studio. Our $1.0M gift will not only allow the COH to buy high grade production equipment, it will also provide funding to maintain the facility at a high professional level and take advantage of advances in technology.
You can see why the committee is excited about this combination of sub-projects under the COH. Our gift will go to an organization that already has a firm footing at the academy and promises to provide a unique voice of history. By dividing our gift into content (Viet Nam archive) and structure (film production studio), we leave our mark on a special part of the COH content as well as on its most prominent facility.
Additional Gift Option: Long Gray Line Endowment
The committee believes that the class has the capability to contribute more than $2.0M before our 50th Reunion. In fact, we believe we are capable of exceeding the record for a 50th Reunion gift set at $2.7M set by the Class of 1953. We have therefore recommended that the amount in excess of $2.0M go to the Long Gray Line Endowment (LGL). The brochure covering the LGL Endowment can be accessed on our website at Final-LGL.pdf. The academy recently announced that it has established within the LGL project a Fallen Graduates Memorial Scholarship Fund (Scholarship Fund), which will give financial assistance for post-secondary education to children of graduates who have been killed in combat. The brochure describing the Scholarship Fund has also been posted to the class website at FINALFallenGraduates.pdf.
The committee has recommended that any amount in excess of $2.0M be contributed to the LGL with half going to the Scholarship Fund and half to the General Fund. For example, if the total amount of our class contribution is $2.4M, we will fund the Viet Nam archive and film production studio at COH at $1.0M each and send $200,000 to the LGL Scholarship Fund and $200,000 to the LGL General Fund.
Investing in Futures by Bringing Life to the Past
It is perhaps ironic that we are investing in futures by preserving the testimonies of the past, but that is exactly what we are doing. We on the Committee realize that we are setting a high bar for our 50th Reunion Gift; but why not? Our classmates have met challenge after challenge over the years as individuals and as a class. We see this donation as a great opportunity to have a substantial impact on the academy by investing in an organization that will contribute for years to the interest and integrity of the historical record. Its one more lofty goal for our class and we believe its one more that will be achieved.
With this communication, we now pass the baton to the Fund Raising Committee, chaired by Harry Dermody and Bob Harter, who will be in contact with you soon. We look forward to joining those of you who will respond over the next four years to meet this, perhaps our last, great challenge.
Strength and Drive,
Class Gift Committee: