Strength in Numbers: Annual Fund Tops $3 Million

by Howard W. Hewitt

July 21, 2008

The Wabash College Annual Fund has surpassed $3 million for the first time in the College’s history.

More than 4,400 Wabash alumni, friends, faculty and staff have made contributions totaling $3,104,282 – not only the largest amount in the College’s history, but a 12.5 percent increase over last year’s $2,759,678.

"All students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of Wabash share in this landmark achievement," President Patrick White said. "This success is built on the hard work, good thinking, and leadership of many people, the generosity and commitment of thousands more, and the pride in the hearts of all who love Wabash.  We will build on this extraordinary accomplishment to continue to strengthen Wabash."

The significant increase helps the College to meet the growing demand to fund scholarships for Wabash men.

"Wabash's return on that investment is the ability to educate our men in ways that prepare them for life and work in the 21st century, while grounding that education in the College's great traditions," Dean of Advancement Joe Emmick said. "I am grateful to everyone who made Wabash a philanthropic priority in their lives."

The increase also means an important challenge has been met.

President Patrick White announced in October the Hays Challenge. Tom Hays ’55 challenged Wabash supporters to increase the Annual Fund to $3 million by the end of fiscal year 2009. If the $3 million figure was reached, Hays would give $1 million to bolster the Wabash scholarship endowment.

"Alumni and friends responded and helped grow the Annual Fund to more than $3 million a full year ahead of schedule," Director of Annual Giving Joe Klen said. "So not only will Wabash students benefit from the combined support of more than 4,400 alumni and friends who made gifts of $25 or $250 or more, but also from the additional gift from Mr. Hays."

Emmick expressed gratitude to the Hays family.  "Thanks to Tom and Sue and to those who responded to his challenge,  the College will realize an additional $1 million in its scholarship endowment. Our alumni completed this challenge a year ahead of schedule - a significant accomplishment that has a direct benefit for  our students."

Klen pointed out alumni responded to this year’s theme: Strength in Numbers.  For the first time since fiscal year 2003, more than 4,000 alumni made a gift to their alma mater. That giving was led by a stellar effort from the Class of 2008, which had more than 70 percent of its members make a pledge to the College.

The other top classes by number of donors were 1965, 1966, 1991, and 1967. The Class of 1961 had just over 60 percent giving rate.  The other top four in the percentage of alumni making a gift were 1951, 1965, 1959, and 1963.

"This is even more exceptional in light of the focus on the state of our nation's economy during this past year," Klen said. "This generous and loyal support demonstrates the belief many of our alumni and friends have in the daily work we undertake to fulfill our mission of educating Wabash men to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely."

The effort to fund scholarships for deserving students is aided each year by the student-manned phone banks. This year 39 different student callers made almost 30,000 phone calls raising nearly $200,000 for the annual campaign.

But as the College celebrates the milestone year, a new year began July 1.

"The Wabash College endowment is impressive for a school of 917 students and 11,000 alumni; however, it does not provide all of the resources necessary to educate our students," Emmick said. "Our Annual Fund makes these additional resources available. Our challenge now is to maintain an annual fund of $3 million or more every year."



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