Caldwell Society's Growth Benefits Virginia Tech
The Caldwell Society is named for William Addison Caldwell, who on Oct. 1, 1872, became the first student to register at the institution now known as Virginia Tech. The university named a donor society for him in 2002, and its hundreds of members have given more than $6 million combined.
By Albert Raboteau
James "Jay" Rule Jr. had just earned the first of several degrees from Virginia Tech when his father showed him a calculation. His bachelor’s degree had cost the family $10,000, a lot of money in the mid-1970s. Yet what impressed Rule was not the expense. It was the career path that money opened up.
Jay Rule and Jeanne Welch
"When I look at an investment of $10,000 and compare it to my income, the rate of return has been tremendous," says Rule, a mechanical engineer in the paper mill department at MeadWestvaco Corporation, who lives in Botetourt County, Va.
Rule (mechanical engineering, '75, '76, '89) has kept return on investment in mind as he has become a significant donor to his alma mater. A member of the Caldwell Society, his support includes a mechanical engineering scholarship named for his father.
College may cost a lot more now than it did in Rule's undergraduate days, but it still offers tremendous rewards, both cultural and financial. Rule says he and his wife, Jeanne Welch, enjoy helping today's students invest in their futures.
Their household is one of hundreds that belong to the Caldwell Society, created seven years ago to recognize donors whose lifetime giving ranges from $50,000 to $99,999.
From its inception in 2002 through June 30, 2008, the society has grown nearly seven-fold -- from 58 households to 392 -- and its members have contributed more than $6 million. Virginia Tech has four recognition societies for significant and consistent donors.
Like many members of the Caldwell Society, Rule says he views philanthropy as "both a pleasure and something aligned with the university motto," which is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
Rule says he appreciated being invited into the Caldwell Society because such honors "recognize the value of giving and, I think, help people to sustain their giving."
But ultimately, he points out, "You give out of a sense of wanting to give and help. It's not a matter of wanting to get the recognition."