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Robert McDowell '68 Honors His Father Through Scholarship

mcdowell Robert L. McDowell '68 

When he was growing up, Robert L. McDowell ‘68 never doubted that his parents were determined that he and his sister should pursue higher education. 

“Every two weeks,” recalled Mr. McDowell, “they would sit down with my father’s pay envelope—this is when people were paid in cash. They always set money aside for my education and my sister’s, saying to us, ‘This is for your education.’” 

The elder Mr. McDowell also provided an example by determinedly pursuing a college degree. “Moving because of his work slowed his progress. But he kept it up, taking classes at night, and, at age 74, he graduated. My parents’ continuous encouragement and my father’s inspiration led to me becoming the first person in my family to graduate from college.” 

 In 1997, to honor his father and his inspiring example, Mr. McDowell and his wife, Melissa, established the Andrew L. McDowell Scholarship in Economics and Business. First awarded in the 2000-2001 academic year, the Scholarship is supporting seven cadets during the 2012-2013 academic year. 

Mr. McDowell chose to support VMI through a scholarship because “I want to have a direct impact on the cadets and their ability to attend VMI.” Mr. and Mrs. McDowell know they are doing so through the thank-you letters that cadets send them. “Those letters are compelling and, because my father died in 1997, we shared a copy of each of them with my mother until her death in 2012.” 

As to the future, Mr. McDowell said, “We’ll keep contributing to the Scholarship, and the bulk of whatever we leave to VMI will be devoted to it.”