General Colin Powell DPS ’88 (right) served as National Security Adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Breaking racial barriers as the first black American to hold all three positions. He is pictured here with his son, Michael K. Powell ’85, DPS ’02, who recently completed his tenure as president of W&M and served on the Visitors Council from 2001 to 2009, including three years as president.
Written by Tina Eshelman, Undergraduate Progress
December 3, 2021
The $1 million gift will increase students’ study abroad opportunities
A new scholarship named for the late Colin Powell DPS ’88 William and Mary will help develop leaders who can emulate his example as a statesman on the world stage.
With initial funding of $1 million from a trustee of the William & Mary Foundation who wishes to remain anonymous, the university will create an award fund to begin awarding Colin Powell Global Engagement Scholarships in the academic year 2024-2025 to at least six outstanding students seeking to study in the outside. Other donors who wish to contribute to the scholarship in honor of Powell can expand its impact by increasing the number of recipients.
President Catherine A.
Colin Powell has dedicated his life to public service and creating opportunities for young people. His wonderful legacy lives on through this gift. The Powell Scholarship will open doors for future leaders to gain the kind of transformative experience that comes from studying abroad.”
General Powell, who died October 18 at the age of 84, served as a national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Breaking racial barriers as the first black American to hold all three positions. The son of Jamaican immigrants, he graduated from City College of New York and joined the military through ROTC officers. During his 35-year military career, he served two combat tours in Vietnam and rose through the ranks to become a four-star general.
In launching the first-of-its-kind scholarship to be named in honor of Powell, the trustee also pays tribute to the exceptional leadership of the general’s son, Michael K. Powell ’85, DPS ’02, with the William and Mary Foundation. He recently completed his tenure as President of W&M and served on the Visitors Council from 2001 to 2009, including three years as University President.
“General. Powell’s service to our country and devotion to the principles on which it was founded is an inspiration to all of us,” said Regent, a graduate. “I hope the students who have been awarded this scholarship will learn from his example and that of Michael Powell, who so well embodies what it means to be a leader on national level and in our beloved university.”
In line with the values demonstrated by Colin Powell throughout his career, the scholarship will advance William & Mary’s strategic goals of addressing global challenges, and forge dynamic partnerships to nurture positive change and shape democratic ideals. It will also encourage research and subsequent scholarship and enhance opportunities for students to serve the global community.
W&M is the No. 4 public university in the United States to study abroad. In a typical year, the William & Mary’s Reves Center for International Studies helps more than 750 students—nearly 60% of all undergraduates participate in graduating—to study in more than 55 countries.
The new Powell Scholarship will be one of the most prestigious opportunities offered by William & Mary to students participating in international study.
“Throughout his life, General Powell has forged a model of leadership with integrity,” said William and Mary, adviser Robert M. Gates, a former United States Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA, who, like Powell, served in several presidential administrations. “As someone who started from humble beginnings, he also understood the importance of mentoring and passed it on to subsequent generations.”
In the 1980s, Powell and his wife Alma chaired the Parents and Family Council at William & Mary, where their three children attended. In addition to Michael Powell, among them are Linda Powell ’87 and Annemarie Powell Lyons ’92. General Powell spoke at the graduation ceremony at W&M in 1988 and was awarded an honorary degree from the university that same year.
“We are so grateful that Colin and Alma Powell saw William and Mary as a place where their children could follow in the footsteps of some of our nation’s greatest leaders and chart new paths of their own,” Rowe said.
Like his father, Michael Powell entered the military through ROTC officers, but a traumatic injury shortened his military career. He has continued to hold leadership positions as Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and is currently the President and CEO of NCTA – Internet and Television Association. He and his wife, Jane Knott Powell 85, have established multiple scholarships at William & Mary, focusing on leadership and opening doors for students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Among William & Mary students who studied abroad during the 2018-2019 academic year and summer 2019, 23% received scholarships through the university’s Office of Global Education. Scholarships are especially needed during the summer, when public financial assistance is most limited. Although 72% of students who applied for a summer scholarship abroad that year received some level of assistance, the funding was not enough for every student interested in participating, says Silvia Mitterndorfer, director of global education at the Reves Center. The Powell Scholarship represents an important step toward making study abroad experiences possible for more students.
Students applying for the Powell Scholarship will be required to submit an application that describes their leadership experiences in the classroom and on campus or in public service organizations, as well as their vision of how study abroad could help them along their career path. The Reves Center committee will review applications with a view to identifying high caliber recipients. Scholarship funds can be applied to study abroad during the fall or spring terms, or summer and winter. After returning to campus, Powell Scholars will share a report with the Reves Center about their experiences abroad and will network with scholarship donors at events throughout the year.
Michael Powell says his family was deeply affected by the establishment of the scholarship to honor his father’s legacy.
“When I was a student at William & Mary I started to think I could drive,” he said. “My father taught me that sometimes people will see potential in you before you see it in yourself. This was true of me at William & Mary, and because of that, I have been able to thrive here. I am excited about the potential of this scholarship to foster global-minded change makers.”