From the NAWM
SOME WABASH STUFF
It has been an exceptional fall marked with momentous occasions despite out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. We rang in a freshman class recruited almost exclusively virtually. We welcomed two 50th-reunion classes. We hosted our first football game in the new Little Giant Stadium. We celebrated an accomplished group of athletes at the Hall of Fame Induction. We recognized the outstanding career, service, and personal achievements of several alumni at our Homecoming Awards Chapel. And we inaugurated Dr. Scott Feller as the 17th President of Wabash College.
As president of the National Association of Wabash Men, I am grateful to have had the privilege of representing our more than 14,000 alumni at each of these momentous occasions—in-person gatherings we took for granted two years ago.
Being back on campus, I heard stories from alumni from their days as students, about friendships that have weathered the test of time, about incredible teamwork, and difficult challenges. Those lessons learned taught us to navigate life today and are all reminders of what Wabash has provided in our lives—a bedrock of grit, joy, and gratitude.
In the Spring of 2021, I had a surprise visit. While working from home during the pandemic, I was on a virtual meeting when my doorbell rang. I got in the habit of ignoring the door while working from home unless I was expecting someone. But a subsequent knock on the door got my attention.
As I opened the door, I was greeted with a warm smile and familiar face of Susie Cumming, wife of the late Dr. Jim Cumming ’61. We hadn’t seen each other in more than 18 months due to the pandemic. It was emotional for both of us. Susie, Jim, and the Cumming family have been special to my family since we moved to Indianapolis in 2005. They welcomed us at church, and Dr. Cumming was our boys’ first pediatrician. Not only did he care for the boys, but he also lovingly supported Nicole and me as we navigated parenthood.
Jim and I both grew up in the small town of Bedford, Indiana. I’ve always thought this is a reason why he and Susie looked out for us. We shared a generational gap, but as we all know, it’s not uncommon at Wabash to have relationships that cross generational boundaries.
After Susie and I hugged and chatted for a few minutes, she handed me a bag and a note. The note read, “Some Wabash stuff to share with you...we’ll be happy if you can use it—if not pass it on!” As she turned to leave, she said, “Jim would have wanted you to have this.”
Inside the bag was a copy of These Fleeting Years, a 2002 Wabash College yearbook, beautifully framed memorabilia, and a piece of the old floor from Chadwick Court. I’m so grateful that I stepped away from my meeting. I’m so grateful that Susie stopped by, that I got to hear her voice, and see her smile.
This moment with Susie highlights for me how fortunate we are to be a part of Wabash College. The words “some Wabash stuff to share with you” are with all of us. They are in the stories we retell about our living unit, or a lecture we recall decades later. They are in the walk across the campus we take with our children and loved ones as we point out Pioneer Chapel, Lilly Library, or Center Hall—places where we took classes we still remember, spent countless late nights studying, and developed our intellectual curiosity.
Whether it is stopping in a building on campus, reconnecting with an old classmate, introducing a loved one to a professor, or engaging with current students—Wabash College has “some stuff to share with you.”
While back on campus this fall, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the generations of generosity I witnessed—the people who guided me when I struggled, who celebrated me when I achieved, and those who are doing the same for so many others both on campus and in their communities.
My hope for each of you is that you join me in Susie’s call in her note and “pass it on.” Wabash is a special place because each of us have moments that tie us back to the College and the relationships that have changed our lives. Let’s continue to “pass it on” to a classmate, a loved one, a potential new student, a professor, or someone in your community in need.
M. Kip Chase ’03 | President of the NAWM