Getting to know: Jeff Rountree of the UMW Foundation
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Family: My wife of 12 years, Lisa, a pharmaceutical representative for GlaxoSmithKline; and our 9-year-old son, Jackson.
Where you grew up and went to school: I grew up on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. I went through all of the public schools in Williamsburg, graduating from Lafayette High School in 1987.
Where you went to college and what you majored in: I graduated from the University of Mary Washington (MWC at the time) in 1991 with a B.A. in geography.
What attracted you to UMW for college? Like countless generations of UMW applicants, the institution’s reputation preceded itself and the beautiful campus environment and grounds did not disappoint when stepping out of our family’s station wagon for the first time.
Jobs you have held since graduating: In my 23 years in the workforce, I have only worked for two organizations. I had three positions with the American Cancer Society, ending up at the national home office in Atlanta where I oversaw many of the event-based fundraising programs in the U.S.
In 1999, former UMW President Bill Anderson brought me back to Fredericksburg to head up the Office of College Development. Years later I became vice president of university advancement, adding the Alumni Relations and UMW Foundation divisions to my portfolio.
In 2008, I accepted the full-time CEO position of the UMW Foundation.
Why you like working for the UMW Foundation: The UMW Foundation is a place of action with a governing board full of great entrepreneurial minds and a staff to die for. Every day is challenging, and this is one job that never lacks for excitement.
The role you believe the foundation plays in the local economy: The UMW Foundation’s rise from an organization overseeing a small pool of scholarship funds to one of the region’s largest real estate firms and commercial developers may not have been by design, but has come to play an important role in our economy.
The sole focus has always been the university and responding in bits and pieces to the needs of various presidents and Boards of Visitors over the years. The by-product of our various local investments and re-development activities has turned out to be a major win-win for both the university and the Fredericksburg region.
The UMW Foundation pays taxes on all commercial ventures like any other landlord and because of the foundation’s urban renewal projects along the Route 1 corridor, new businesses have opened and new jobs have been created—which has undoubtedly helped the local economy grow.
How the UMW Foundation contributes to the success of UMW and the experience for its students: I am honored to work for a board of directors that never loses sight of our mission, and that is to be the “edge of excellence” for the university.
Over the last five- and ten-year periods, the UMW Foundation’s portfolio has out-performed our National Association of College and University Business Officers peer group, providing consistent returns for the students and programs receiving endowed funds.
When it comes to real estate, the foundation has taken the lead on many important projects on behalf of the university, the marquee example being Eagle Village. The project has acquired land for the long-term needs of UMW, provided premium apartment-style housing for students, and filled the need for additional student-centered retail within walking distance from campus.
Hobbies: Travel and boats never heard of a place I wouldn’t visit or stumbled upon a boat I wouldn’t spend the day on. After visiting over 30 countries, our family is currently focused on visiting all 50 U.S. states by the time my wife, Lisa, turns 50 in 2015. We only have three more states to go!
As far as boating is concerned, my most recent project has been the renovation of a 48-foot houseboat on Smith Mountain Lake. Anyone out here want to buy a houseboat?
Something people don’t know about you: I grew up in a castle. Well, let me explain. I grew up in Edinburgh Castle the one in Williamsburg, not Scotland. My childhood home was a common tavern only steps from the Colonial capitol building in Williamsburg and provided 18th-century patrons with food, drink, gambling and lodging. How apropos now that our foundation is opening a Hyatt Place hotel (minus the gambling of course).
Something else people don’t know about you: When I applied to UMW I was rejected or, rather, “placed on the waiting list” as then Dean of Admissions Conrad Warlick said in his letter. So I put on a tie and jacket and went up to Fredericksburg to see if I could work something out and eventually was accepted. Today, Dr. Warlick is one of my board members and we always have good fun with that story!
—As told to Bill Freehling