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Editorial: At The Citadel, a gift that will keep giving

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Citadel cadets walk toward the entrance of Padgett-Thomas Barracks in August. Citadel graduate William Baer Endictor named the military college the sole beneficiary of his estate in 2009, and today, the value of that gift has grown to approximately $20 million. File/Gavin McIntyre/Staff

When The Citadel unveiled its new strategic plan last year, its authors were mindful that its success would hinge in large part on the school's finances; today, the military college clearly has a brighter future than ever thanks to the generous support of one of its successful graduates.

When William Endictor was a young child, his family moved from Michigan to Charleston, to a home right next door to The Citadel's campus. He eventually enrolled there, graduated in 1959 and later thrived in both the legal and corporate worlds, all the while keeping his parents' advice in mind: "You have a responsibility when you leave this life to leave it in a better condition than you found it."

At his 50th reunion, Mr. Endictor named The Citadel as the sole beneficiary of his estate, which in 2009 was valued around $2.5 million. Since then, it has grown to about $20 million, making his the third most generous lifetime gift in The Citadel's 178-year history.

It's not just the size that's so meaningful to the school, but also the gift's flexibility. Bill Yaeger, The Citadel Foundation's senior director of legacy giving, told reporter Jenna Schiferl that about $10 million would go toward an academic endowment that supports educational enrichment opportunities, such as scholarship support for faculty and students, program enhancements and technology upgrades. The other $10 million can be spent on whatever The Citadel decides it requires most.

Mr. Endictor likely was comfortable with that flexibility because few others appear to know the school as well. He has served as president of The Citadel Alumni Association, on the President’s Advisory Committee and on The Citadel Foundation Board of Directors. "The leadership of The Citadel is outstanding," Mr. Endictor said in a statement. "The smartest thing anyone can do is to hire the right people and then get out of their way.” In that sense, the gift is also a credit to The Citadel's strategic plan and those who are working to realize its goals.

This flexible support is arriving during a critical time, as the state's direct financial support continues to fall and public schools and universities feel pressure to keep tuition increases low and to offer students more aid. 

A final noteworthy aspect of Mr. Endictor's gift is the way it leads by example. "It's been my experience that when you have folks who give gifts like this, it causes others to pause and think about what they're doing in their own charitable planning," The Citadel Foundation President and CEO John Dowd said. "It can motivate others to do the same." In part because of Mr. Endictor, The Citadel of the future promises to be a much better school than the one he found when he reported as a knob more than 60 years ago.

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