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The Power of Distance Learning

Shannon Hair smilingShannon Hair and his mother were abandoned by his father when he was just a toddler. It was his mother's attitude that they could make it out of public housing by sheer determination and hard work. Shannon said, "My life could have ended up very differently. I should have been a statistic."

After graduating in 1996 from George Washington High School, Shannon began thinking about college. Not wanting to leave his family, his high school sweetheart, or his community, he enrolled in Danville Community College's (DCC) two-year program, majoring in general engineering and drafting. He graduated in 1998, but it wasn't easy. Soon after he began, he learned that the program was going to end. Shannon fought for it, first by enlisting his mother's help and then talking to the dean of Engineering & Business. When that failed, he went to the top—to President Carlyle Ramsey. That discussion led to a friendship between the two men that has lasted more than two decades. And the program remains to this day!

While still at DCC, Shannon began campaigning for a job at Dewberry Inc., a large engineering firm in the Danville area. Eight months of relentless calls paid off when he was hired as a temporary replacement for a CADD technician being deployed. That five-month job turned into a 12-year career, ending with him as manager of economic development. Meanwhile, he and Heather married, and Shannon decided to go back to school. He chose ODU's Teletechnet Center.

"Thanks to ODU, I was the first member of my family to graduate with a four-year degree. The only time I actually put my feet on the ODU campus was when I graduated. Heather, pregnant with Jackson, our firstborn, and other members of my family came to watch me walk across the stage. It was a proud accomplishment."

While still at Dewberry, Shannon told Dr. Ramsey that one day he would like to return to DCC and run the Educational Foundation. He already had strong relationships with many local civic organizations, having served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and Danville Family YMCA. "I was thinking that would be a great job when I reached my 40s or 50s," he said.

In the busy summer of 2010, while welcoming Dawson, their second-born, and preparing Jackson for kindergarten, Shannon, 32, received an all-important phone call from Dr. Ramsey inviting him to meet. When they sat down, Dr. Ramsey said, "The time is now. Your predecessor is leaving." A dream had come true! In October 2010, Shannon was named director of development at DCC and executive director of the Educational Foundation. He was to lead fundraising activities and manage the college's first major gifts campaign.

"I was charged with raising $7 million for scholarships and other campus initiatives," he said. In October 2010, the foundation's endowment was roughly $3 million; by January 2013, it was well over $6 million, with over 30 newly created scholarships. "Raising $7 million in less than 24 months has been exhausting, but very rewarding," Shannon said. "I am amazed and humbled at our success. A building, an auditorium and classrooms have all been named. It's been so much fun, that most times, it doesn't even feel like work!"

It was at the chancellor's annual retreat in the summer of 2011, that Shannon attended a planned giving session and learned that he could take out a life insurance policy, make Danville Community College the owner and beneficiary, and get a tax deduction for the premium payment. He and Heather discussed the type of legacy they wanted to leave and decided that, at his death, the policy will endow several funds.

"I felt so great about what we'd done that I wanted to do something similar for ODU," Shannon said. ODU is now the beneficiary of a whole life policy on Shannon, which will fund a scholarship in their names, to benefit a Danville—or Virginia—engineering student to take classes through ODU's Teletechnet Center.

"We're doing this to pay it forward," he said. "Working in the educational arena has increased my passion for these institutions. Heather and I wanted to promote them through a legacy gift." Shannon added, "If I had to do it all over again, I'd do the same thing. I really didn't want to leave my community. ODU gave me that opportunity to stay and invest in my surroundings...and it's all paying off now!"

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Old Dominion University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state, zip] hereby give, devise and bequeath to Old Dominion University's Educational Foundation [or to Old Dominion University's Athletic Foundation], 4417 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23529, a tax exempt organization, free of encumbrance, [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purposes."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to ODU or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to ODU as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to ODU as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and ODU where you agree to make a gift to ODU and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

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eBrochure Request Form

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