AAWC President’s Report

AAWC President’s Report

I want to begin my report with a thank you to ALL alumnae and alumni for your dedication to and support of Wilson College through the absolutely unprecedented events of 2020 and 2021. Your support of the Alumnae Association is also appreciated. We have had no on-campus events, so we had no revenue and minimal opportunities for fundraising. However, when we needed funds for some of our outreach activities, people were generous in their donations to enable us to support Wilson’s students.

When we suddenly could no longer gather on campus, Marybeth Famulare, our director of alumni relations, and her associate Katie Shank stepped in to create many virtual events that pulled us together and maintained a Wilson connection. Thank you!

Also, thank you to past AAWC President Mary Cramer who is serving as financial consultant to the AAWC.

While President Wesley R. Fugate joined Wilson about eight weeks before the world shut down, and several of us did have the opportunity to meet him in those brief, halcyon days of normalcy, I cannot wait for all of us to have the opportunity to meet and mingle with him and experience his enthusiasm in person. He has done yeoman’s work in reaching out and communicating with us during the time we could not gather, and we do appreciate all his efforts. We are very lucky to have him as Wilson’s 20th president.

Also, welcome to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Angela Zimmann, who joined Wilson this past March, after Cami Rawleigh retired. Some of you had the chance to meet Angela during the selection process, and others got to meet her when a small number of us were able to be on campus for the commencements of 2020 and 2021 and President Fugate’s Inauguration. She’s another great addition to the Wilson community. She has also become a proud Phoenix parent — her daughter Chelsea is a first-year at Wilson.

While we have not been able to gather for quite a while now, things have been happening at the AAWC, nonetheless.

Last year, we bought a bench near the Veterinary Education Center in honor of A. Richard Kneedler, who served as interim president in 2019 before President Fugate arrived.

The AAWC grew our ranks this year with two honorary members, who we welcomed via Zoom ceremonies. We welcomed a former interim president and retired professor Donald F. Bletz, Ph.D., on November 18, 2020, and Hankey Center Director Amy Ensley on February 11, 2021.

The Ring-It-Forward Program continues, albeit virtually. We held a virtual ceremony in May, at which time we “forwarded” five rings paired in 2020 and three rings paired in 2021, bringing our total to 44 rings.

The AAWC had shared in the cost of new furniture for the porch of Alumni House with the Alumni Relations Office. The furniture arrived just as everything shut down in 2020.

We held a virtual Award Ceremony on June 4 to honor 2020 recipients of our Alumnae/i Awards, and held a similar ceremony on June 5 to honor the 2021 recipients of those awards.

We presented Legacy Awards to Pierce Thompson Peiffer ’21 (daughter of Bernadette Thompson ’99) in 2020 and Elizabeth Dimoff ’21 (sister of Kathleen Helman ’09) in 2021.

We realized that we have a number of alumnae who are not online and thus were not part of all the outreach we were doing during the pandemic to connect with our members. We created a Pen Pal program to encourage connection with older alums who are not able to join us in our online activities.

It is important for Wilson College to have metrics that measure different forms of alum engagement and participation in the life of the College, and we now track our volunteer activity, with over 500 volunteer actions this year.

We granted two internship requests from students in the total amount of $600 from our Internship Program.

The Aunt Sarah/Uncle Wilson Program had 105 pairings this year. Please, if you haven’t done this before, or if you did years ago, consider signing up to be an Aunt Sarah or Uncle Wilson. It does matter to the students. Even if some of them are not great correspondents and don’t reply immediately, they still enjoy hearing from the alums.

With the funds raised through our link with smile.Amazon.com (which came to $179.77), we were able to help with the cost of alumnae/i/student activities — Halloween Treats in October, a day for Food for Finals each semester, and participation in Senior Bash. Once again, as guests and visitors were not allowed on campus, thanks to Marybeth and Katie for being our representatives at these events. If you are an Amazon shopper, please link to the AAWC as your charity in its “Smile” program. It’s easy to do, and by doing what you’d be doing anyway, some money comes to the Association and really helps us fund these initiatives.

The Silver Lining Fund provides relief to students when an emergency financial need occurs. In addition to providing $1,100 to a total of eight students in such situations this year, we donated $200 in gift cards to the Giant supermarket to support Sarah’s Cupboard, the on-campus food pantry.

While 2019 was one of our better years for our travel program, all travel ground to a halt in 2020, and it is only slowly starting up now in 2021. We actually received $560 in revenue from those 2019 trips in this fiscal year. We have some trips planned for later in 2021, and hope we can generate some funds for the AAWC through them. While we couldn’t travel in real life, our Tours & Travel Committee partnered with Alumni Relations this year for a popular Travel Tuesdays virtual series in which members of the Wilson Community – alums, staff, and even President Fugate’s husband, Cody Ward, gathered with us on Zoom on Tuesdays at lunchtime and shared presentations about trips they had taken, allowing us all to travel along in our minds, at least for now.

Unfortunately, given the restrictions on gatherings, we had no opportunities to represent Wilson College at college presidential inaugurations this past year.

While some of those restrictions are finally easing, they are not gone entirely yet. In keeping with the need to significantly limit attendance at the events held on campus in May, we were allowed to just have a Blue and Silver Line Marshall attend the Commencements and the Inauguration. At the 2020 Commencement, Carole Stoehr Ashbridge ’70 filled that role, and the next day, when we celebrated the Commencement of the Class of 2021, Cathie Sunderland Jenkins ’71 did the honors at both the undergraduate and graduate commencements. Cynthia Fink Barber ’73 was the Blue and Silver Line Marshall at the Inauguration. All represented us well, and we thank them.

And finally, we got the 1979 book printed!

As you know, the project was begun by Nancy Adams Besch ‘48, the late Joan Foresman Edwards ’58, and the late Carole Tschop ’72. Wilson President Emerita (and honorary alumna ‘91) Mary-Linda Sorber Miriam Armacost joined with Nancy Besch to write the book. “The College that Refused to Die: The Untold Story of Wil- son College 1979-1989, A Documentary History” is available in paperback at Amazon.com for $15 and in hardcover at Lulu.com for $25. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll order yours now, although when we are able to gather in person, we will have copies available for purchase on campus. We are hopeful that Mary-Linda and Nancy will be able to join us again at a future reunion to discuss the preparation of the book and autograph some of our copies.

The AAWC presented copies of the book to the John Stewart Memorial Library and the Hankey Center, as well as to the past Presidentsof Wilson and to the non-alum (or alum spouses) on the Board of Trustees. Because Nancy and Mary-Linda very generously donated their rights to the book to the AAWC, between book sales and donations, the AAWC has completely covered all of our expenses associated with getting necessary permissions to include copyrighted material in the book and formatting it for printing; and it has now begun to generate revenue for us, currently about $100. Perhaps even more significantly in terms of the value of the book, President Fugate has a supply to use as he approaches potential donors in his efforts to inspire philanthropy toward Wilson.

I have shared some of the financial impacts and outcomes of our activities this past year already through this report, but I will summarize our financial situation here. The AAWC received a clean review of our books for fiscal year 2020; since we did not have a change of signatories on our accounts, a full audit was not needed. As of May 2021, we have total assets of $91,414. Of this, $64,149 are restricted funds in class treasuries, and AAWC restricted funds of $11,027, including the Internship Gift Program ($3,539), Preservation and Restoration Fund ($4,700), Tift College Awards ($782), Silver Lining Fund ($1,032) and Alumnae/i/Student Activities ($974). We have operating funds in the amount of $16,248.

While not having a reunion meant we did not have the expenses associated with a reunion, it also meant we did not have the opportunity to generate income from the reunion and some of the activities of that weekend. Our income included $560 from travel, $2,213 from the book, $49 in interest, $143 in Emporium sales, and $200 in unrestricted donations, for a total income through May 2021 of $3 ,165. Even while we could not gather, there were some expenses associated with the operation of the AAWC. Our expenses included $2,104 for the book, $700 for the financial compilation, and $1,133 for D&O Insurance, and miscellaneous expenses of $171. As a result, with expenses thus far of $4,108 we have an operating loss as of May 2021 of $943.

It has been a challenging year, but we’ve made it through and look forward to being able to gather on campus next year. Please stay safe and healthy, and plan to come back to Wilson soon!

Respectfully submitted,
Lynne E. DiStasio ’74 President

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