Two years ago, I arrived at a college that was the 25th fastest growing institution in the country, according to “Business Journals.” And shortly thereafter, Covid-19 became one of the most frequently used words in our lexicon. It is hard to imagine that we are now in our third academic year facing a pandemic and its impacts. Wilson’s students and their families have been greatly affected, and as a result, in the last two years, we have seen decreased enrollment, and thus, revenue. Our faculty and staff have been stretched in unimaginable ways. It has been one of the most difficult periods in Wilson’s 153-year history.
And yet, the Wilson spirit thrives. Having students return to campus last fall for what might be described as a “new normal” has been exhilarating. They fuel me and others who serve Wilson. Our alums and supporters have given generously. As I tour the country speaking about our new strategic plan, “Future Wilson: The Phoenix Rises,” as well as about the challenges we face as a result of the pandemic, I have been greeted with open arms and support. We had a most remarkable Giving Tuesday when approximately 150 donors contributed nearly $100,000 to the College, and we met two generous challenges by three alumnae from the class of 1964. Thank you to each of you who has been so generous.
The Wilson spirit also burns brightly through the work of those in our campus community. This issue of “Wilson Magazine” highlights how our faculty, students, and alums bring voice to issues about which they are passionate. Since our founding as a place to give women an education when it was not readily available to them, Wilson has always been engaged in advancing causes that align with our values.
This work is important to me personally. Over the last year, I have advocated locally for more inclusive policies in the Chambersburg community and joined a national effort urging Congress to double the Pell Grant, a program that serves financially needy students and between 36-40% of Wilson students in a given year.
Wilson has always been a place that is committed to giving voice to important issues. I am proud of how we continue to model that today. I hope that you enjoy learning about how this work continues at the College.
I would be remiss if I did not note that I hope to meet many more of you in the days and weeks to come as I complete my introductory tour. Additionally, I hope to see many of you in June for One Grand Reunion, a unique moment of having three different years of reunions at one time. I hope it will be one of the largest gatherings of the Wilson family in our history and a unique time to celebrate being together with one another.
While we all continue to face challenges resulting from the pandemic, I know that with your help, as #oneWilson, the College will continue to make a transformative impact on the lives of our students. For all you do, I am most grateful.
Wesley R. Fugate