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A Cherished R-MC Ambassador: Susan H. Donavant Announces Retirement

Sep 01, 2017

10/10/17

Susan DonavantSusan H. Donavant, a cherished member of the Randolph-Macon College community, has announced her retirement. After 40 years of dedicated service to R-MC, Donavant, currently the Executive Director of the Boydton Society and formerly the Executive Director of Alumni Relations, will retire on December 31, 2017. Under her leadership, R-MC's Society of Alumni increased alumni engagement and expanded programs for the Boydton Society (alumni who graduated 50 years ago or more) and class reunions.

"Susan has become an institution at Randolph-Macon," says Diane Lowder, Vice President for College Advancement. "She has served as a vital common thread for our alumni, faculty and staff as the college has evolved over four decades. I am frequently reminded by grateful alumni of her loyalty to Randolph-Macon and her tireless efforts to encourage their engagement with their alma mater. Susan has strengthened alumni involvement in a multitude of ways and has been a warm, gracious presence at countless college functions. We wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement."

Alumni Connections
R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren says that Donavant has been essential in keeping alumni, especially members of the Boydton Society, engaged in the life of Randolph-Macon.

"I have heard that, from the moment she stepped onto our campus 40 years ago, Susan has been a devoted ambassador of the college," says Lindgren. "She has a gift for bringing people together, and her enthusiasm for all things lemon-and-black is evident in all that she does. Look around at just about any Randolph-Macon gathering and you’ll see her smiling face. Alumni across the generations value her institutional knowledge, her engaging personality and her sincere desire to let them know that they are valued members of a large, close-knit community. We wish Susan a happy, healthy and joy-filled retirement."

A testimony to Donavant's place in the hearts of alumni is the fact that the Boydton Society members donated $75,000 several years ago to have the Executive Director's office in Dalton House named for Donavant.

Phil Emerson '81, Board of Trustees member and outgoing president of the Society of Alumni, says, "For almost four decades, Susan has been a key connector for Randolph-Macon's 10,000 alumni. She has shared news of exciting and challenging chapters in the college's history, fostering key support along the way for our alma mater. During her tenure, she has nurtured relationships with several generations of students and alumni."

Emerson continues, "As our alumni and advancement office has grown, she has taken on a wide array of responsibilities while guiding staff and sharing vital elements of R-MC's history. Susan has been a driving force in establishing Dalton House as a welcoming environment for our alumni. On behalf of our alumni, I extend our gratitude to Susan, and to Mike, her husband, for their outstanding service to Randolph-Macon. She is indeed an exceptional Yellow Jacket!"

Susan H. Donavant
Donavant began her career at R-MC in 1974, when she became the college's first Director of Annual Giving. In 1975 she managed R-MC’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon, and after a brief departure from the college due to her husband’s job relocation, she returned and was named Director of Alumni Relations.

In 1996 Donavant received R-MC's Honorary Alumna Award, which is presented to friends of the college who have shown unusual interest in and affection for R-MC by giving their time, talent and resources to further the programs of the college.
Donavant earned her B.A. at Randolph College (formerly Randolph-Macon Woman's College) and her M.H. from University of Richmond.

Donavant says, "Being part of the active and engaged Randolph-Macon College family has been an honor and working with so many amazing alumni has been a deeply meaningful experience. Over the years, the members of the Board of Directors of the Society of Alumni have provided great leadership, imaginative thinking and invested their time and talent into keeping their fellow alumni connected with the college. Members of The Boydton Society and its Executive Committee have been amazing with their tremendous passion for Randolph-Macon. Annually, they have provided incredible funding that has enabled current Yellow Jackets to attend R-MC, learn from outstanding faculty and live on a beautiful campus. My thanks and appreciation also go to faculty and staff, who have responded so positively when asked to provide special programs for alumni who have returned to campus."

She continues, "In addition, I will always be extremely grateful to former R-MC President Luther W. White III '47 and former Director of Development Henry M. Carter Jr. '53 for having taken a chance on hiring me in 1974. I also thank President Ladell Payne and President Roger Martin, who were extremely supportive of alumni programming during their years at Randolph-Macon. We can all be grateful for the strong leadership of President Robert Lindgren, who has been tremendous in guiding the transformation of the campus. As Vice President for College Advancement, Diane Lowder has been an inspiration to our department's team in raising the level of programming and fund-raising efforts that support Randolph-Macon."

Donavant acknowledges her husband, Mike, for his constant support during her time at R-MC.

"He has attended countless R-MC events, stepped in with a helping hand during activities, maintained a sense of calm when weather or circumstances presented unexpected challenges," she says. "All of this he has done with a smile and good sense of humor, which I have deeply appreciated. Mike and I are grateful to know so many Randolph-Macon College people who have become such wonderful friends to us over the years."