May 19, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

John Crawford, Vice President for University Advancement and Chief Executive Officer of the VSU Foundation Inc.

VSU’s Capital Campaign Surpasses $50 Million

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University is proud to announce that its first-ever comprehensive capital campaign — Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University — has surpassed $50 million in gifts and pledges thanks to a major gift from the J. Donald Lee and Laurelle Lee Family Foundation.

The J. Donald Lee and Laurelle Lee Family Foundation gift will be used to endow the J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship at VSU.

“Valdosta State University is the flagship university for South Georgia, and as such we must become a leader in the area of economic development,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president. “As our plans unfold for VSU’s role in economic development, we will work carefully to ensure that the J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship is positioned within the university to maximize its benefit to future entrepreneurs in South Georgia.

“Blazer Nation is grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s children, Layne Varnedoe and Eve Murray, for making the commitment to honor the Lee family’s remarkable legacy in a way that epitomizes Mr. Lee’s entrepreneurial spirit. I want to thank Hilary Gibbs, associate vice president for development and alumni relations at VSU, for stewarding a relationship between the university and the Lee family that has resulted in something that will honor Mr. Lee and benefit VSU students and the South Georgia region for decades to come.”

J. Donald Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Valdosta State and spent a very successful career with Brockway-Standard Company. In 1989 he started Lee Container in Valdosta, and in 1993 he moved the company to its current location in Homerville.

Using a business model built on integrity, Lee Container has grown to include locations in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Centerville, Iowa. The company has earned numerous awards for quality and customer service from industry leaders such as Syngenta, BASF, Chevron, and Texaco.

In 2003 Lee Container was named Manufacturer of the Year in Georgia.

J. Donald Lee passed away in 2014, but his example of entrepreneurship continues today through the leadership of his son-in-law, Robert Varnedoe, who succeeded him as president of the company.

Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State is set to run through June 30, 2019. It was initially launched on July 1, 2014, with a working goal of $43,250,000. In October of 2014 the VSU Foundation Board of Trustees voted to increase the goal to $53,250,000 due to the early success of the campaign.

To date, $50,396,000 in gifts and pledges has been raised, which is 94 percent of the campaign goal.

“We are very grateful to all of our donors, but I think Mr. Lee would be very proud of the fact that this gift put us over the $50 million hurdle,” said John Crawford, vice president for university advancement and chief executive officer of VSU Foundaiton Inc. “This gift will be transformational as we continue Mr. Lee’s legacy as a business leader, particularly as VSU emerges as a key leader in the economy of South Georgia.”

Visit to learn more about investing in the future of VSU while also igniting opportunities and inspiring excellence today.

  • General VSU Information
  • 229.333.5800
  • Office of Communications
  • 229.333.2163
  • 229.333.5983
  • Campus Address
    Office of Communications Powell Hall West, Suite 1120
  • Mailing Address
    1500 N. Patterson St.
    Valdosta, GA 31698