BRYCE BRIDGEWATER & JAKE VERMEULEN | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND NEWS EDITOR • While the Wabash community was preparing for the Bell Game, the College kicked
off a campaign with the potential to have an even greater lasting impact than the Little Giants’ 24-17 victory. At the Indiana State Museum on Friday, November 9th, Wabash unveiled Giant Steps: A Campaign for Wabash College. This campaign will be the largest and most “audacious” fundraising campaign in the College’s history. The last major fundraising campaign, known as the Campaign for Leadership, achieved a very ambitious goal, raising $136 million despite a goal of only $100 million. This campaign’s goal dwarfs that one, with a $225 million mark.
“This is bold. It is giant,” Michelle Janssen, Dean of College Advancement, said about the campaign. “Schools that are double our size have similar goals, just to put it in context.”
Fundraising for the campaign began on July 1, 2017 and will continue until June 30, 2023 and all gifts made to the college during that time will count toward reaching the fundraising goal.
For one thing, this means that the money raised during last semester’s Day of Giving is included in this campaign. The first phase of the campaign, which just concluded, was the Leadership phase. The Leadership campaign raised over $150 million, led by a school- record $40 million dollar gift from trustee Paul Woolls ’75 and his wife, Betty O’Shaughnessy Woolls.
“For him, along with Betty, [they] gave one of the biggest gifts given to any college or university this year,” Janssen said. “Its cool that these leaders lead.”
They, along with Steve Bowen ’68, immediate past President of the Board of Trustees, and his wife Joanie, are the National co-Chairs of the Giant Steps Campaign. Over 30 donors gave at least $1 million to the college as part of the Leadership phase of the campaign.
The campaign is focused on getting members of the Wabash community to take their giant step for Wabash College. “We are shifting into the Regional public phase starting now,” Janssen said. “We are going around the country to get the next level of gifts and to
give their Giant step. These Giant
steps include giving a gift to start a
scholarship or doing something to enhance a fraternity house because there is an element to fraternities. Maybe their Giant step is providing a scholarship or an internship.”
At the kickoff event, which was billed as “The Bash: A Red Letter Event”, attendees were encouraged to explore the Hall of Giants, which showcased some of the giants of the College’s past in order to inspire them to take that Giant step. The Hall of Giants honored men and women like Byron Trippet ’30, whose service as Wabash’s ninth President was the highlight of a 30-year career serving Wabash, legendary religion professor William Placher ’70, Melissa Butler, the first woman to be granted a tenured professorship at Wabash, and Gail Pebworth, whose swimming and diving teams earned
48 All-American awards during her 18 years at the helm.
Size isn’t the only thing that separates Giant Steps from the Campaign for
Leadership. While the Campaign for Leadership was focused primarily on building what would become the Allen Center and Hays Hall, the College
is not currently planning to use this campaign for construction projects– though a major construction project is certainly not out of the question. Rather than primarily investing in tangible new buildings, this comprehensive campaign is expected to invest in the more intangible things that will allow Wabash to compete with other high- caliber colleges well into our second century, and provide high quality experiences to students.
“When we do things, we think how are we better impacting students as
a result of what we are doing,” Joe Klen ’97, Associate Dean for College Advancement and Campaign Director, said. “If we increase opportunities for students, then we say it was success on that level. From the operation of the College, how did we do engaging our constituent base? Are they closer to the College now? We want to impact and better connect people who aren’t as well connected.”
“We invite everybody. In the greater Chicagoland area, we invited 1500 people to four events,” Janssen said. “We want everybody to get involved.”
Giant Steps has four key fundraising goals: Giant Value, Giant Minds,
Giant Experiences, and Giant Ideas. Giant Value focuses on improving scholarships so that students from all types of backgrounds are able to come to Wabash and thrive, regardless of their financial standing. This includes the establishment of a number of new scholarships. Giant Minds will improve support for the faculty who make an incredible impact on Wabash students. Giant Experiences will provide new and better immersive experiences for students during their time here.
“The donors created a wonderful gift for immersive learning,” Janssen said. “For the class of 2023, by the time they are juniors, [the students] will be guaranteed an immersion trip. For some students, these trips are life changing.”
Giant Ideas will focus on new spaces. This segment of the campaign has already started making its impact on the campus, beginning with the renovation of Martindale Hall, the Ott Residential Life District, and Fusion 54 in Downtown Crawfordsville.
The overarching theme and goal of the campaign is to position Wabash
to continue being one of the premier colleges in the world by asking alumni, family, friends, and students to take a Giant Step for Wabash College. Noting the challenges small liberal arts colleges face today during “The Bash: A Red Letter Event,” Jay Allen ’76, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, “We remain undaunted. Our collective commitment is clear, and our resolve is firm. To ensure that Wabash continues to be a place that educates young men to be leaders, problem solvers, and visionaries for our world.”