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That is Wabash rising to the occasion—Wabash men, their wives, partners, friends; faculty and staff; even people with no apparent connection to the College, including those in corporations and foundations who believe in our mission and strength, our promise and our impact. RECENTLY I ENJOYED an evening with such a group of men —members of the Class of 1962 and their wives, friends, and significant others celebrating their 50th reunion during this year’s Big Bash. I was honored to sit among these 60 men whose lives are testimony to the truth of those promises I make to students. I thanked them not only for what they had done for the College, but also what their lives mean to us, for being the men they are. On the previous night they had presented their class gift —a check for $2,670,000. As I looked around that room I saw in the faces of these men who have become heroes in their own lives an indefatigable pride and a recognition of what Wabash has meant to them and from which rose a stirring determination to give back, to make certain future generations of young men will have the Wabash education they need to make a difference in their world. That generosity and leadership of the 50-year reunion classes during the past few years find resonance in the youngest and newest of Wabash alumni. This past spring the Student Senate, representing all current students, completed its gift of $25,000 to answer the Challenge. Among the contributors to that gift were members of the Class of 2012, who had been freshmen when the recession threw so many colleges, families, and nations into financial turmoil. They had watched as the College responded to the nightmare that hit so soon after we had completed our strategic planning process. They wondered whether we would pull back from our promises or stand still.

They heard Dean of the College Gary Phillips say, “We can’t lose momentum. We have to secure the things we have been doing that improve the curriculum and improve the student experience. We can’t stand still for five years, because we will lose a generation of students and a generation of faculty. Every dollar that comes to us will be more preciously spent than ever, because we have to get stronger every day.” They saw Wabash take up the challenge as alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College dug deep; and they were among the first beneficiaries of a campaign that has transformed the heart of Wabash—our teaching and learning. A few examples offer a glimpse of how all at Wabash have responded to the Challenge of Excellence:

The Legacy of Bill Placher The fall of 2008 was a terrifying semester. With the financial markets in free fall and strife and sorrow on campus, the year culminated with the death of Professor Bill Placher ’70—the national teacher of the year, acclaimed theologian, prolific writer, beloved brother in the fellowship of learning, the best of our great students and teachers. Wabash was Bill’s family. He left the greatest portion of his estate to the College, and discerning the wisest use of that gift has been a sacred trust. Bill Placher modeled for us all the complex attributes of scholar, teacher, colleague, friend, and mentor. We thus chose to honor Bill’s memory by creating the William C. Placher Fund for Faculty Support to attract, retain, and nurture excellent faculty and the teaching they do both inside and outside the classroom. The Placher Fund is investing in the finest teachers and is part of the Challenge of Excellence’s goal to maintain teaching excellence at Wabash. The COE is also supporting teaching excellence through


Professor Bill Placher

Bill Placher modeled for us all the complex attributes of scholar, teacher, colleague, friend, and mentor. ➤

William C. Placher Fund for Faculty Support

The John W. Bachmann–Edward Jones Chair in Economics

Burgess Family Scholarship

S p r i n g 20 1 2

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Wabash Magazine  

The Journal of Wabash College

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