Dear Fellow Member of the Vergilian Society,

I am writing to you to ask for your help with an urgent problem facing the Society. As you know, the Villa Vergiliana has been the center of the Society's Italian programs for many years. It has been a home away from home for scholars and students, and has hosted our tours of classical sites for years.

The physical condition of the Villa has deteriorated alarmingly. The roof is in such bad condition that the interior is suffering serious water damage. We obviously need to repair the roof, reinforcing some of the Villa's substructure, rewiring, eradicating dry rot, etc. The refurbished Villa will be far more inviting and, more importantly, safer for all who visit.

The Vergilian Society holds the Villa through an agreement with the Italian government that requires us to maintain it in good repair. If we fail to meet this requirement, the Society could lose the Villa for good. Repairs are urgently necessary if we are to keep the Villa safe for its occupants and visitors. If the damage is not restored over the coming year, the 2005 tours are in jeopardy.

The necessary reconstruction will cost about $140,000. Fortunately, the Society had begun the work of building an endowment, which can be borrowed against to start the repairs. Nonetheless, the whole project is far beyond our present means. We can save the Villa only by a major fundraising campaign, and time is very short.

We know that Vergilian Society members cannot contribute the whole sum. A project of this size will require major donations from foundations and other institutional donors, and the Society's Board of Directors will begin seeking such grants soon. An ad hoc grant-seeking committee is now being assembled. But grants are not automatic, and such fundraising will, in any case, succeed only if we can demonstrate very strong member support.

Donor institutions use two measures to assess member support: the amount of money raised and the percentage of members contributing. Even if you cannot make a large contribution, you can improve the Society's chance of being able to save the Villa by sending a small amount as a token of your concern. If you can manage a larger contribution, please do so. And be assured that we shall make a full accounting of all gifts. Enclosed with this letter is a list of the officers and directors of the Vergilian Society and others who have already contributed to start the campaign.

As you know, a special members' meeting was recently held in St. Louis during the CAMWS annual meeting. At that time, new elections were held to put behind the regrettable disputes that have absorbed so much attention in recent months. As I note in my first (interim) presidential letter, we are making a fresh start. Now we must all turn our attention to saving the jewel in the Society's crown, the Villa.

Please send back the enclosed form with your contribution, as quickly as possible. Updates on fundraising will be posted on the Society's website. If we all participate, we can save the Villa, through which we will be able to serve Vergilians for many generations to come.

With best regards,

Alden Smith
Baylor University
Interim President, Vergilian Society

I would like to make a pledge to the Villa Repair Fundraiser.

Current list of donors and those who have made a pledge to the Villa Repair Fundraiser

Current amount of money donated or pledged.

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