The president muses on progress at the College and the rollout of the new strategic plan.
by Wesley R. Fugate
We have kicked off our fall 2022 semester with more energy and enthusiasm than I have experienced in my time at the College. Certainly, the progress made in dealing with the pandemic has contributed to the exuberance. We began this academic year attempting to return to as much normalcy as possible, recognizing that COVID-19 still is with us and still represents a danger, but knowing we as a community and society are better prepared to manage it. It feels wonderful to see our students smiling and engaging with one another in person again.
The College now has 1,360 students, a decline of 3.3% compared to last academic year. Like Wilson, many institutions have experienced sharp declines in enrollment since the onslaught of the pandemic. Of course, the enrollment decline since the 2019–2020 academic year has presented financial challenges for the College. Our advancement team is working diligently behind the scenes in what I call the “not-so-silent phase” of a campaign aimed at helping us stabilize the institution financially as we build back our enrollment. Your support of these efforts is critical. Every gift helps us make a difference in the lives of our students.
Now is the time to consider doing more for Wilson than you have ever done before. Could you make the most impactful gift you have ever made to the College? Consider encouraging others to make transformational gifts, too. Think about engaging with our current students as an Aunt Sarah or Uncle Wilson to help them persist to graduation. Do you know any potential students whom you might recommend to the College, whether they be traditional or adult students, for online, hybrid, or in-person programs?
I have long said that we are #OneWilson. Now is the moment for us all to unite, put our oars in the water, and row in the same direction to help the College achieve its goals.
While the decline in enrollment and the resulting revenue loss are distressing, we have reasons to celebrate. We are making great progress implementing our strategic plan, Future Wilson: The Phoenix Rises. The retention rate for our traditional undergraduate population is increasing. Our Teacher Certification Program enrollment remains strong. Our commitment to affordability places Wilson as more affordable than many public institutions after all financial aid is tabulated. And last fiscal year saw record-breaking gifts to the Wilson Fund. Soon, we will announce details of a major online education initiative aimed at enrolling more adult students. In fact, it would take up this entire magazine to detail all the excellent work going on to ensure that Wilson students succeed and the College thrives.
This issue of Wilson Magazine reminds us of the continual good that occurs at Wilson College. You will learn about our graduates’ success in the equine and nursing fields. You will read of the generous philanthropy of alumna Joan Thuebel ’52 and the service to her alma mater of Joan McCulloh ’52. You will see what our students got up to over the summer and the arrival of new and returning students for the new semester. You will be heartened to know that despite the tumultuous last 2 1/2 years, Wilson continues to do what it does best: empowering our students to be confident and critical thinkers, creative visionaries, effective communicators, honorable leaders, and agents of justice.
Each and every day, I consider myself so very lucky to lead this remarkable institution. Our community of students, faculty, staff, alumnae and alumni, parents, and friends is what makes Wilson the unique place that she is. I am so glad you are a part of the Wilson family.
Thank you for all each of you do to transform the lives of our students. Small but mighty, We Rise: United for Wilson’s Future.