Spring/Summer 2019 / Alumni News

Alumnae Awards

Leslie Durgin ’69 has had a long and distinguished career in politics and government in Colorado. After graduating from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, she received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado in 1976. From 1975 to 1982, she held positions in Colorado state government, including principal planner and policy analyst for the Office of State Planning and Budget, human services assistant to Gov. Richard D. Lamm and manager of the state Human Service Policy Council, among others. She was elected to the Boulder City Council in 1987 and subsequently was elected mayor, a position she held from 1990 to 1997. She most recently served as senior policy adviser to the Boulder Housing Authority and also as senior policy adviser to the Boulder Chamber of Commerce from 2014 to 2019. Durgin’s community service has encompassed many organizations in the Boulder area, and she currently serves as senior vice president at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, as well as serving on the board of directors of the Colorado ACLU and Emergency Family Assistance Association, and on the University of Colorado’s Conference on World Affairs, Strategic Planning and Development Committee. She was a member of Wilson’s Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2015 and chaired the Commission on Shaping the Future of Wilson College, which led to the decision to rejuvenate the College by significantly increasing enrollment, strengthening programs and facilities, addressing issues of educational cost and value and expanding coeducation across all programs.

Barbara Kostyak ’96 graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. She first worked as marketing manager for Kostyak Home Builders, her family’s construction business, for 12 years. In March 2009, she became the chief financial officer of Ratchet Rake LLC in Carlisle, Pa., which sells innovative ATV and tractor attachments. She and her husband hold a patent on the ratchet rake, a brush/land-clearing device that attaches to most compact tractors and skid bucket loaders. The company is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. Kostyak is a volunteer for Victim Services Division of the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, a service resource for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child and elder abuse, and is also involved with Project Share, an organization that addresses issues of food insecurity and nutritional education.

Ruth “Meg” Oldman ’08 is currently an assistant professor of English at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. After graduating from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing, she received a master’s degree in literature from Marshall University in West Virginia and a doctorate in literature and criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the faculty at Tarleton, she was a full-time professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and also taught writing classes while attending Marshall and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is currently president of the Medieval Makars Society, a network of scholars interested in medieval Scottish Makars’ literature, which encompasses a number of poets of 15th- and 16th-century Scotland.

Lisbeth Sheppard Luka ’69 has been active for many years both in the Wilson community and in Chambersburg. She graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to earn a Master of Education degree with a concentration in elementary counseling from Villanova University in 1978. For six years, she worked as an elementary guidance counselor in the Chambersburg Area School District and then became the founding executive director of the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts, a position she held from 1989 to 2004. Luka served as executive director of the Chambersburg Area School District Foundation from 2006 to 2012. She is also president of the Gilmore-Hoerner Endowment, a trustee of the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church and a member of Coyle (Library) Campaign Leadership Committee, in addition to serving on the boards of numerous Chambersburg-area organizations. At Wilson, she is a past Alumnae Trustee and current member of the College’s Board of Trustees. She has served on the AAWC Board of Directors and on many AAWC committees, and is past president of the former Wilson College Club of Franklin County.

FACULTY AWARD (Posthumous)
John McDermott was an educator for 48 years, teaching science in the Greencastle and Carlisle (Pa.) school districts; then serving as a professor of nuclear science for Penn State University and Dickinson College before completing his career at Wilson. He joined the faculty in 1998 and became director of teacher education before retiring in 2002. He also served as the senior science adviser for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. After retiring from Wilson, McDermott became the director of the Institute for Retired Persons in Chambersburg. He received a bachelor’s degree from Shippensburg University, a master’s degree from the University of Delaware and a doctorate in education from Ohio State University. He was a member of the American Nuclear Science Teachers Association and the Franklin County Historical Society.

The AAWC board has named Daniel O’Keefe ’21, son of Christi Wilkins ’84, as the recipient of this year’s award.

Alumnae award recipients, from left: Lisbeth Sheppard Luka ’69, Ruth “Meg”
Oldman ’08, Wilson President Barbara K. Mistick, Leslie Durgin ’69, Barbara
Kostyak ’96 and John McDermott’s daughter Meaghan McDermott ’94.

RELATED: AAWC President’s Report Reunion ’19

AAWC President’s Report

It’s a very exciting time at Wilson College. The College is marking 150 years since its founding and has embarked on a two-year celebration of all that it has accomplished. While we still have more to do, the steps we have taken are pointing us in the right direction. Enrollment is up, the scope of our offerings is expanding and just two weeks ago, we welcomed about 200 new members to our association, as Wilson awarded master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees at its 149th Commencement. There are good days ahead for Wilson, but now is the time to reflect on the past year’s events and accomplishments. The Alumnae Association of Wilson College, in conjunction with the Office of Alumni Relations, is pleased to share the following with you.

The Office of Alumni Relations is focused on building relationships, maintaining rapport and creating lifelong connections. Alumnae and alumni are its volunteers, partners, advocates and donors. By increasing the capacity for alumni involvement, the office also increases the capacity for them to contribute to Wilson in meaningful ways.

The association would like to thank Marybeth Famulare and her staff for their devotion and commitment to our organization and Wilson College. I am not an in-state association president, so Marybeth and I have had to rely on biweekly telephone calls to coordinate activities and ensure that everything is moving along. This year, after Brie Burdge ’16 left the office for a new position, we welcomed Katie Shank ’19 as the new alumni relations associate. Her enthusiasm and energy are contagious. She will be an asset to all of us.

Please keep informed of our upcoming events, updates and volunteer opportunities through our monthly e-newsletter, website and Wilson Magazine. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, where we provide that information and also share photos of events. These communication vehicles all foster outreach among alums, students, faculty and staff.

Most of the work of the association occurs within its various committees. We appreciate the energy and enthusiasm shared by our board members, and are pleased to share information about our committee activities.

The Engagement Committee is focused on our outreach to all alumnae and alumni, and has a role to play in our social media, magazine, Reunion, Fall Weekend and regional events. We know that connected alums give back time, talent and treasure to the College.

Critical assistance comes from 349 alums who are currently serving as class officers/representatives.

Regular meetings with the Office of Marketing and Communications serve to determine the content of each issue of the magazine.

We encourage you to keep us informed of and updated as to your contact information so that we may keep in touch with you.

Lisbeth Sheppard Luka, Class of 1969, celebrating her 50th reunion, was the marshal of the Blue and Silver Line leading in the 2019 graduating class at Commencement on May 19. She proudly wore her class sash as she then took her seat on the dais as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees.

This year, 15 alumnae represented Wilson College at college presidential inaugurations across the country.

During Winter Retreat, the association met with Amy Ensley at the Hankey Center and contributed Wilson stories to her collection. We also hosted a luncheon with several international students and the director of the Office of International Scholar Services. We later had dinner with resident assistants, during which we sampled and voted upon the food selections to be offered at the Saturday casual dinner on campus over Reunion Weekend. During Fall Weekend, we hosted two events to encourage interaction between current students and alums, and heard a presentation on the College’s plans to celebrate its Sesquicentennial. We also encouraged attendees to support Fulton Farm at its “People, Place, Plates” farm-to-table fundraising dinner.

As of June 1, 2019, assets total $109,854, compared to $117,677 last year at this time. Of that figure, there are restricted assets: class treasuries, $69,312; alum-student activities, $1,275; internship/ seminar gift program, $4,345; preservation and restoration, $4,018; Silver Lining Fund, $2,972 and Tift College Awards, $634.

Income earned from travel was $1,649 (we have yet to receive proceeds from two trips in April for 24 guests), from interest $598, from sale of merchandise $25.

The Heritage Committee is working with the admissions department to be available to them as needed and to participate in on-campus events to educate prospective students and their families about the role AAWC plays in college life. We had a display and distributed giveaways on Accepted Student Day in April.

The committee worked with the College’s 150th Anniversary Committee. Watch for information on events throughout the year.

The Heritage Committee had partnered with the College to renovate and landscape the Mary B. Sharpe fountain, and that project has been concluded.

The association felt it was appropriate to make a more substantial donation to Wilson College on the occasion of its Sesquicentennial— one that would reflect our commitment to students and to the institution. The board voted to donate $10,000 toward the construction of the veterinary education center. A bird alcove and adjacent corridor will be named in the association’s honor.

The Ring-it-Forward program is still going strong. Four rings were “forwarded” this year, bringing our total to 36 rings.

The Nominating Committee works diligently to ensure that our board membership consists of highly qualified and committed individuals. They maintain talent inventories of our current leaders to assist in identifying candidates with the experience and skills needed for a well-rounded board. Each year at our annual meeting, a slate representing a wide cross section of alums is presented for election. In order to facilitate a smooth transition to board service, each new board member is given a handbook and is assigned a current board member as a mentor. The Nominating Committee invites all interested alums to express that interest to them–via the Office of Alumni Relations or any member of the board–so they can work with you to explore possible opportunities for you to participate more fully in the work of the association. The committee fulfills important governance responsibilities for a nonprofit organization. It is, therefore, also responsible for updating and revising association policies.

The Aunt Sarah Program is going strong. There were 166 volunteers involved in the program this year, with 110 pairings. Over half of our volunteers for this program come from class years 2000 or later, which is a real testament to the value of Aunt Sarah by those in classes that have experienced it as students. This program has been an avenue for the building of friendships and bonds between former and current students.

This year, the association made a substantial gift to the College in honor of its Sesquicentennial, so we did not add to the collection of Adirondack chairs around campus. They remain popular across the Wilson community and we will likely resume donating them in the future.

With the funds raised through our link with Amazon.com, we were able to help with the cost of alum-student opportunities—Halloween Treats in October, a WCGA Phoenix Friday event, a day for Food for Finals each semester and participation in Senior Bash. We encourage all of you who shop with Amazon.com to do so through smile.amazon.com and identify the AAWC as your charity. The amounts per transaction are small, but if enough of us take this step, the totals add up and the association puts that money to good use.

The association took part in the College’s graduation fair with a display, information table and giveaways. The association granted two requests for internship monies in the amount of $600.

The Silver Lining Fund provides relief to students when an emergency occurs. In addition to providing $115 to students in such situations this year, we donated $100 per month (September-April) to Sarah’s Cupboard, the on-campus food pantry. Food donations to Sarah’s continue to be given throughout the year by alums.

We maintain our collaboration with WCGA, interacting to discuss concerns or make suggestions to foster alum-student opportunities. We are also continuing our collaboration with the Office of Career Development to connect students or academic departments with appropriate alums for specific career networking. Student workers provide assistance for Reunion and other programs.

This committee is responsible for the selection of the association award recipients. Again this year, our awards are going to very worthy individuals whose endeavors are to be given high praise and should be celebrated. Each chose their own path and succeeded in their personal and professional endeavors. We also gave one $900 legacy award to Daniel O’Keefe ’21, son of Christi Wilkins ’84.

This year, Loretta Hunt Marion ’61, longtime leader of this committee, has informed us that she is no longer able to continue in this capacity. The board will be discussing how best to carry this work forward, and you will be hearing more soon.

We sponsor an assortment of trips, some of which are all-inclusive and others land (or cruise) only, across a number of seasons and destinations. We also partner with some travel companies, so should you personally travel through those companies and mention that you are a Wilson graduate, the companies will make a donation to the Alumnae Association. This offer includes any trip, regardless of whether it is sponsored by Wilson, from hundreds of educational tours they offer around the world.

See Wilson-sponsored trips at www.wilson.edu/alumnae-toursand- travel.

Members of the Alumnae Association give back. We support students in a variety of ways—celebrating their achievements, facilitating mentoring relationships, contributing to Sarah’s Cupboard, helping in an emergency and awarding internship gift funds.

Each of us has an opportunity to be a part of the work of the association, in whatever capacity we are able, and I encourage you to consider setting aside time to become involved if you can. It is interesting and rewarding, and you are making a significant contribution to the success of the students at Wilson College.

As noted earlier in this report, I am not a “local” president, and I want to thank the board members who have so generously stepped forward to represent the association when I am not able to be on campus and all the alums who support the various campus events over the year that we sponsor.

Thank you for your interest, thank you for caring about the College and thank you for believing in the importance of your Alumnae Association.


Lynne E. DiStasio ’74 President

RELATED: Alumnae Awards Reunion ’19

Reunion ’19

More than 240 alumni and guests attended Reunion Weekend 2019, with alumni traveling to campus from more than 20 states and the Grand Cayman Islands.

The official reunion was for those classes with graduation years ending in 4 or 9, although several other class years also attended. The Class of 1969 celebrated its 50th reunion and was the largest class present, while the Class of 1948 was the earliest class attending. Sunday’s memorial service honored 90 alumni and friends who passed away since last Reunion and whose passing was shared with the College.

The Class of 1969 presented the College with a gift of $169,000—the largest class gift in Wilson history. The class allocated the money in ways its members decided would have the greatest impact on the College and the community. A total of $100,000 will fund an endowed scholarship for Wilson students; $50,000 will go to the new veterinary education center, where a surgery room will be named in honor of the class; $18,000 will help repurpose the tennis courts by the Brooks Science Center and create a multisport recreation area for students; and $1,000 will go to Sarah’s Cupboard, Wilson’s food pantry, which provides staples and snacks to campus community members who are struggling with food insecurity.

At the annual Saturday luncheon, the following awards were presented:

• The Silver Cup for the class with the greatest percentage of members registered for Reunion went to the Class of 1969, with 26 percent attending.

• The Class of 1969 also won the Reunion Bowl, which is given to the class with the largest number of class members registered for Reunion. Forty-seven members of the Class of ’69 attended this year.

• The President’s Plaque for the class with the highest five-year participation in the Wilson Fund was awarded to the Class of 1954, with 78 percent of its members contributing.

• The Silver Tray for the class with the highest total of restricted and unrestricted giving to the College was awarded to the Class of 1949 for raising $1,883,496.

• The Class Crystal for the class with the highest total amount given to the Wilson Fund for the current fiscal year was awarded to the Class of 1964, which raised $69,850.

Save the date for Reunion Weekend 2020, scheduled for June 5 to 7, for members of class years ending in 5 or 0.

RELATED: Unflappable Commencement Celebrated Under Bold, Blue Skies Alumnae Awards