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Betsy (Elizabeth) Best Phillips smiling.

A Gift to Help Students Study Abroad

By Emily Parker

A Gift to Help Students Study Abroad

By Emily Parker

The impact three degrees from Meredith College have given Betsy (Elizabeth) Best Phillips, ’71, ’86, ’89 (MBA), are immeasurable. Her sense of indebtedness to the College inspires her to be actively involved in order to both help Meredith grow and inspire students and younger alumnae to stay connected. The relationships she has formed have been a treasure to her and influenced her to give her time and talent to students at Meredith.

Her most recent gift to the study abroad program combines her passion for travel and her desire to open the world for more students to experience studying abroad during their time at Meredith. Phillips made a $1 million will bequest to create the Betsy Best Phillips Global Scholars Endowment. This endowment will support students who feel, because of financial limitations, studying abroad is not an option. This endowment makes it possible for them and will open their world. 

Phillips traveled with her family in the United States early in her life, but her first time traveling internationally was in 2001 to Florence, Italy. Since then she has traveled with the Meredith Travel Program, which she enjoys because it allows her to spend time with her Meredith sisters. She has traveled to Sansepolcro, Italy, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. She became interested in supporting the study abroad program after a Tuscan Intensive trip in 2015 that Billie Jo Cockman, director of strategic giving, encouraged her to go on and Brooke Shurer, director of international programs, led. For years after that trip, she gave annually to the Sansepolcro Current Student Fund before her most recent $1 million gift.

“We are a global community and the need to know places, culture, and people are so important to working in our world today,” said Phillips. “I want students at Meredith to experience all that travel has to offer. Travel opens up the world through experiences and knowledge and gives them opportunities.”

Helping Students Is Always a Priority

Phillips not only has three degrees, art, accounting, and an MBA, but she has stayed engaged with the College through the business mentoring program and entrepreneurship challenge. She has also hosted international students during holiday breaks. Her career in various accounting and business management positions and as a chief financial operator of a marketing firm, and finally owning a commercial real estate firm, Best Commercial Properties in Raleigh, have led her to not only help business students but see the importance of facility enhancements at Meredith. 

“I know the importance of keeping facilities up-to-date. I see things that need to happen or I hear about a need at Meredith and I want to help. I wish I could do all the things I wanted to do for this campus,” said Phillips.

Phillips has funded essential items that Meredith needed, such as bathroom upgrades in Belk Dining Hall in 2007 and a lightboard for the Studio Theater in 2015. 

“I met [theatre faculty member] Steven Roten and I was very intrigued with how they were promoting their program to young women. They needed help doing a production and needed a lightboard,” said Phillips. “It was an immediate need and I was happy to give a gift to help.”

To help Meredith maintain older buildings, Phillips established a $100,000 facilities endowment in 2009 to create a perpetual stream of revenue for facilities. She feels her gifts to Meredith are part of her legacy and it is important to her to support the place that fully educated her.

Phillips is thankful that on her way to work one morning in 1984 she noticed a billboard that read, “Aspire Higher, Meredith College MBA.” That day she called and made an appointment at her alma mater for the next chapter in her academic journey. That chapter brought her much success in her professional life and enabled her to give back in so many ways to Meredith College.

“I do not necessarily care if students who receive my study abroad scholarship or benefit from any of my facility gifts know me, but I want them to know that Meredith alumnae only want the best for them and to inspire them to be the best they can be and that their future is important.”

Phillips hopes this gift encourages others to give no matter the amount.

“Ordinary people can do extraordinary things through synergy. And Meredith’s vision moving forward promotes that opportunity. I am blessed and it is my pleasure that I have been able to give to my alma mater.”

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