When Mary Uhrig Phillips ’85 and Kevin Phillips ’84 were considering how they could best support William & Mary with a new $1-million commitment, One Tribe One Day — William & Mary’s annual day of giving back and paying it forward — immediately came to mind.

“One Tribe One Day is about more than raising money for William & Mary,” says Mary. “It’s about building our community.” Adds Kevin, “It brings together like-minded people for a common cause and purpose. We believe supporting the university and all it does is important and worth considering.”

The couple has sponsored challenges for One Tribe One Day (OTOD) for the past seven years. During the annual event, challenges increase the impact of individual donors’ gifts by unlocking additional funding — for example, when a certain number of donors gives to a specific fund, or when prior years’ records are broken.

Mary Uhrig Phillips ’85 and Kevin Phillips ’84
Mary Uhrig Phillips ’85 and Kevin Phillips ’84 (Courtesy photo)

Since this year’s event, on April 18, marks 10 years of OTOD, the Phillips have committed up to $50,000 to support a challenge that is bolder than ever — a 10-to-1 match to the Fund for William & Mary for gifts made to any area of the university from first-time One Tribe One Day donors. 

Supporting the Fund for W&M has been particularly important to them because it helps meet the most pressing needs of the university each year. It fills in gaps from state support, tuition, and restricted gifts, and it also supports another area about which they are passionate: affordability. The Fund for W&M contributes to financial aid for students, as well as provides funding for the Monroe Scholars program.

Alongside the Fund for W&M, their generous commitment also supports William & Mary’s Scholarships Impact Fund, Posse Scholars Program and the W&M Libraries Make a Difference Fund.

Supporting scholarships has been important to the couple. In 2018, they created the Mary Ruth and Kevin Phillips Scholarship Endowment at W&M to provide need-based scholarship support for students who are active military, military veterans or dependents/survivors of active-duty military or military veterans.

Their gift to the Scholarships Impact Fund helps the university guarantee scholarship aid to cover at least the cost of tuition and fees for all in-state, undergraduate Pell Grant eligible students, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. Their support of the Posse Scholarship helps William & Mary provide full scholarships to diverse cohorts of students selected in partnership with the Posse Foundation, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college and many of whom may not have seen the university as an affordable option otherwise.

“We believe passionately in supporting people through their college career, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds and who might not be able to afford college otherwise,” says Mary.

Kevin and Mary both attended public schools in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and they understand what it’s like to worry about how to afford college.

“Being able to go to college was important to us — it was our parents’ dream. We had to go in-state because that’s what they could afford. William & Mary was the place to go, the very best university, and to get in there was a big deal within our families and community,” says Kevin.

In need of a way to help pay for school, Mary walked into Swem Library during her freshman year and asked for a job. She got one on the spot, a kindness she’s never forgotten. That opportunity helped support her education throughout her time at William & Mary. 

In the late 1990s, Kevin and Mary decided to begin giving back to the university to help future students afford opportunity. They have been stalwart supporters ever since, both through giving and through volunteer service. Mary joined the W&M Libraries board this year, is a charter member of the Society of 1918 and supported reunions for the Class of 1985. Kevin was a trustee of the W&M Foundation Board from 2013-2022 and served on the Budget & Finance Committee, the Executive Committee and the Audit Committee, which he chaired from 2018-2021.

“We were very fortunate to have been able to attend this university, get the degrees and education and have successful careers,” says Kevin. “So for us, we are paying back to the college that helped us in the best ways we can.”

After graduating as a math major, Mary received her master’s degree in operations research then taught high school mathematics in both the Loudoun County and Fairfax County school systems. Kevin, a business major, was involved in Army ROTC at W&M and spent nine years in the Army reserve. Following graduation, he worked as an accountant at a defense electronics manufacturer and rose to the role of chief financial officer at CTX Corp. He stayed on as CFO when CTX was acquired by Northern Virginia-based ManTech, a top provider of high-performance solutions for defense and intelligence agencies. Kevin served as president and CEO of ManTech from 2018 until this past fall, when he retired and became chairman of the board of directors.

“You never know where life will take you,” says Kevin. “Identify what you care about early, and give a little when you can.”

Mary says they never could have imagined being able to give a gift like this when they first graduated, but every gift of any size makes a big impact for future students and strengthens the William & Mary community. 

“This is what One Tribe One Day is all about, and this is what I love about it,” she says. “Give that $10 gift. Give that $25 gift. Do it today. Just get in the habit of giving. Wherever life takes you, be a part of this community.”