Jim, Francis Willis to serve as this year’s co-chairs

Last updated: March 01. 2014 6:36AM - 557 Views
Melissa Hopkins

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LAURINBURG — Jim and Frances Willis have been named co-chairs of the 2014 Laurinburg Area Campaign to support St. Andrews University.

The campaign will officially kickoff on Tuesday, but the Willises are already working to organize volunteers for this highly successful annual fundraising effort.

“We have long recognized and appreciated the many different ways that St. Andrews benefits our community,” said co-chair Jim Willis. It is an economic driver and employer, a resource for learning, art, sports and culture.”

As a child growing up in Laurinburg, Willis watched the construction and opening of St. Andrews.

“This beautiful property with a stream meandering through the middle became a gleaming, modern college campus,” he said. “An entire institution of higher learning and all that came with it was here. New people, different people, people with new and exciting ideas and lives. Laurinburg was growing, part of a bright future.”

That bright future has continued throughout the more than 50-year partnership between the University and the community.

“St. Andrews has enjoyed extraordinary support from the local community that is the envy of many other college presidents I know in North Carolina and throughout the region,” said Campus President Paul Baldasare. “Community support means a great deal to our faculty, staff and students, and all of us work hard to give something back to Laurinburg and Scotland County.”

That giving back includes a wide variety of community service efforts throughout the year — providing leadership to civic organizations and churches, volunteering in the county schools, and participating in large numbers during the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service.

As an economic engine for growth, St. Andrews is among the top five employers in Scotland County. The University attracts more than 15,000 visitors annually to the county for a variety of events ranging from open houses for potential students, the Scottish Heritage Symposium and Alumni Weekend to theatrical productions, musical performances, art shows, equestrian competitions and athletic events.

“Laurinburg is a better place for all of us because St. Andrews is here,” said Willis. “It shapes us, informs us, and challenges us. It enhances what is good about our community. People are coming here and they know about Laurinburg because of St. Andrews. A college town is more diverse, more complex, more interesting. It provides us with more possibilities for our future.”

While a goal for the 2014 campaign has not yet been announced, the pressure will be on to continue the now 18 year tradition of exceeding past years’ $500,000 goal.

“The reason for the success of the Laurinburg Area Campaign for St. Andrews every year is the commitment of an extraordinary group of dedicated volunteers,” said Baldasare. “We are so grateful for the leadership Jim and Frances will provide for this year’s volunteers as they work to make the campaign goal a reality.”

To make a donation to the 2014 Laurinburg Area Campaign to Support St. Andrews University, visit sapc.edu and click “give” or call 910-277-5664.

Melissa Hopkins is the director of communications for St. Andrews University.

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