ALUMNI, BOARD MEMBERS, AND STUDENTS EXCHANGE WABASH EXPERIENCES
BENJAMIN JOHNSON ’18 | STAFF WRITER • JOSEPH REILLY ’18 | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF • The Board of Trustees convenes on campus each quarter to gain perspective from the students and faculty of the College, collaborate on solving campus issues, and reconnecting with their alma mater. You can say what the Board of Trustees does here is fairly similar to most colleges across the country, except for one thing: few schools have trustees who attempt to reach the level of student engagement for which Wabash’s trustees routinely strive.
For their first quarter meeting every year, the Board, along
with members of the National Association of Wabash Men (NAWM), meet on the weekend of the Celebration of Student Research, which took place last Friday. This is just one way alumni engage with students and the work put forth in courses and summer internships. Further, student presenters, as well as any undergraduate juniors and seniors, are all invited to sit down and share a meal with Trustees and NAWM members in Knowling Fieldhouse that evening.
“Our trustee weekends are busy, packed full,” Jay Allen ‘79, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said. “But, we work hard to find time to meet students. We want the same things that the students do— to support the faculty, to support the infrastructure, to figure out how we attract the kind of students that make Wabash what it is—that’s the kind of insight we hope to get from these events.”
Despite the dinner’s past reputation for poor student attendance, this year marked a reversal of the trend. The students turned out to engage the Board and talk about their futures, thoughts on the state of the College, and any other topic that might come up. Both the alumni and the students left the dinner with full stomachs, brotherly sentiments, and a better understanding of each other. But what exactly is the purpose of the Board of Trustees as a body? It’s a question many students probably ask themselves, and the lack of understanding likely plays a role in some students’ lack of interest in attending these rare events.
“One thing that is really important to understand is that the Board of Trustees doesn’t run the College. Dr. Hess runs the College along with his staff,” Allen said. “We try to use the diversity of experience both in terms of years and background. We have bankers, lawyers, doctors; we have all kinds of people who bring all kinds of variety and perspectives to our beloved Wabash College.”
Essentially, the Board and President Hess’ administrative staff work together to ensure that Wabash works at exceptional levels. They share ideas and offer insight with respect to possible initiatives. The Board brings their industry specific knowledge to the table, with marketing executives helping shape the College’s brand and financial experts offering guidance on the management of the endowment and raising capital for on campus infrastructure improvements. While the Board might weigh in on these initiatives, the staff of the College execute the plans created by these discussions. The staff are the experts when it comes to running the school, as
it is their professional endeavor. The pool of advice provided by the Board of Trustees aid the staff in their execution of these plans, and these plans will reshape the campus as a whole.
“It’s great seeing how much the trustees care about our college and the degree to which they consider feedback from the students,” Oliver Page ’19, President of the Student Body, said. “I think we as a student body need to better understand how special this is. The fact that so many students get to interact with trustees on this level is a tradition we should cherish and fully embrace as a college.”
The next Board of Trustees weekend will be held during the weekend of commencement from May 10-12.