Winter 2024 / Departments

Last Word: Mental Health Matters

By Angela Baker, Director of Counseling Services

In our society, the importance of physical health is generally acknowledged and even celebrated. But when it comes to mental health, the attitude is different. Mental health is often stigmatized and ignored. Yet, inevitably, life confronts us with the need to pay attention to our mental health. This is particularly true during college, a time when focusing on mental health becomes especially crucial.

Wilson incorporates mental health care as part of the services provided to our on-campus students. The counseling center offers short-term individual counseling, selective medication management services, and group psychoeducational sessions. All services are free of charge. Center staff includes two licensed and certified professional counselors and a part-time licensed and certified psychiatric nurse practitioner. Graduate studies counseling interns also serve at the Center with close clinical supervision. At one point in Wilson’s history, more extensive group offerings were available. However, increasing mental health needs on campus have resulted in a greater necessity for individual sessions, and in some cases, crisis sessions. A crisis session occurs when immediate safety must be assessed. During the 2022- 2023 academic year, 68 crisis sessions occurred on campus versus 35 such sessions in 2021-2022.

According to a 2023 Forbes article, 60% of college students experience at least one mental health concern while in college. And, nationally, the average waiting time for a regularly scheduled counseling appointment is six months to one year, and up to two years in more rural locations with less access to qualified providers. Some of the recent increase in need is due to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others are attributed to more individuals seeking help. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2023 that prior to the pandemic, 1 in 5 adults in the country (approximately 43.8 million people) were living with a mental health condition, primarily major depression and generalized anxiety. Data from our counseling center corroborates the study’s findings with similar conditions reported by our students. Concerns expressed in on- campus sessions include (in order of most self-reported reason for seeking services): anxiety, depression, academic stress, trauma, suicidal ideation, and relationship conflict.

Because of its importance, Wilson incorporates mental health care as part of the services provided to students. Beginning with the 2024 spring semester, through a partnership with Virtual Care Group (VCG), we now offer students enrolled in Wilson College Online free telehealth services, including traditional counseling and crisis services, when warranted. VCG provides students access to a nationwide network of diverse licensed providers. This is an important distinction because state licensing laws prohibit Wilson’s counseling center from offering services outside of Pennsylvania.

In addition to expanding counseling services to our non-traditional students, the college recently invited staff and faculty to participate in a nationally recognized Mental Health First Aid certification program. This program provides training so individuals can recognize and respond to distressed students until professional help can be arranged. Twenty-six Wilson employees are now certified to assist.

While it’s a sometimes-daunting task because the need is so great, Wilson is evolving its support systems to meet the requirements of students mental health. Just another example of how our dedicated faculty and staff are rising to the challenge, ensuring each student, whether in-person or virtual, can truly succeed – academically, emotionally, and physically. Yes, mental health matters!


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Campus Crops: Senior Capstone Leads to Sweet Legacy

By Jennifer Cisney

Environmental Science major Katie Riley ’24 is fascinated by bees. So much so, this past year, she embarked on a journey to become a beekeeper.

“I am drawn to beekeeping because I am amazed at how such a tiny creature can have such a large impact on its ecosystem and the world around it,” she said. By serving as pollinators and creating habitats and food for other organisms, bees are considered a keystone species.

Working with thousands of buzzing creatures with stingers can be intimidating. Katie began her beekeeping quest by arming herself with knowledge. She took online courses and worked with local beekeepers. Virtually, she became familiar with bee life cycles, hive components, and disease and pest prevention. Through real-life experiences, she learned how to use a hive tool, identify the three different kinds of bees in a hive, start a smoker, and watch the bees interact with one another. Katie says she learned the most through her hands-on activities, but the online lessons were valuable, setting her up to successfully shadow veteran beekeepers.

Katie’s beekeeping adventure was one of dedication, learning, and sweet rewards. And she was able to use her passion as the focus of her senior capstone project. Her path began with choosing and building her own hive, selecting and installing the new bees and queen, conducting hive checks, treating her bees for mites, harvesting honey, and then preparing the hive for winter. Katie kept a log of her brood status at each hive check and recorded her experiences and insights to hopefully help others on their path to becoming a beekeeper.

Fulton Farm is home to Katie’s hive. So, her research and passion for bees will live on, past her graduation this spring. The hive is a welcome gift to the farm, helping its ecosystem thrive today and into the future. A sweet legacy indeed.

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Campus Crops: Intentionality Leads to Opportunities

By Jennifer Cisney

When one door closes another one opens … this inspirational metaphor, often attributed to Alexander Graham Bell and Miguel de Cervantes, is a fitting analogy to the latest developments at Wilson’s Fulton Farm.

Known on campus as the Farm, this seven-acre environmental educational facility and working produce farm is finding a new path, post COVID-19 pandemic. Challenges with staffing, volunteer recruitment, getting produce to market, and the voracious appetite of deer have all caused Farm leadership to rethink how the facility runs and meets the needs of the College. Christine (Chris) Mayer ‘07, assistant professor of Integrated Sciences and director of the Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies, has decided to regroup, and ultimately, scale back the traditional produce production of the Farm, making room for new outreach opportunities.

Christine (Chris) Mayer ‘07, assistant professor of Integrated Sciences

Mayer shares that scaling back has allowed her to be more intentional and thoughtful in the design and operation of the Farm. For example, she, along with College Farmer Tim Gacquin, are now exploring the use of more permaculture applications.

Permaculture is the concept of using land, resources, people, and the environment in a manner that produces little to no waste. “Think of it as a self-sufficient and sustainable way to grow the food we eat,” said Mayer. Drawing inspiration from nature and based on crop diversity, resiliency, productivity, and sustainability, this approach fits well with the mission and focus of the Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies.

College Farmer, Tim Gacquin

“In a permaculture system, we attempt to mimic natural systems. For instance, we can stack, or layer, functions like in a forest system with a forb layer (non-woody plants), a shrub layer, and a tree layer. One application we have currently is our herb spiral. It presents different sun and shade exposures and different types of soil drainage ability, according to plant preferences.”

Mayer is bringing her intentionality to the classroom as well. This spring, she is teaching an Agroecology class for the first time since 2017. Agroecology is an approach to sustainable farming like permaculture but with broader concepts. It incorporates the discussion of scientific principles and social movements with the aim to create a more just and promising future for people and the planet. Drawing from the core tenants of ecology, sociology, economics, and agricultural science, Agroecology offers a roadmap for developing sustainable and equitable food systems.

Students participating in the class hail primarily from Wilson’s Environmental Science and Animal Studies degree programs. As part of their studies, they are reading “Saying No to a Farm Free Future” by Chris Smaje. In the book, the author delves into the role of keystone species, meaning those that have a significant impact on the environment and essentially hold the natural ecosystem together.

“It’s empowering when you teach someone to grow their own food,” said Mayer. “You don’t have to have 100 acres and grow 8 million ears of corn. It’s about learning to provide for yourself, grow real food, and understand the care and nurturing that goes with it. That’s how we as humans can become better at being a keystone species.”

Mayer says the Farm can also be a valuable resource for other programs of study at Wilson. Assistant Professor of Biology Sherri Buerdsell and her conservation biology class use the property to conduct plant surveys. And Bonnie Rock-McCutheon, assistant professor of History and Ancient World Studies, has integrated the Farm’s interpretative trail into her archaeology class by studying the former site of Fulling Mill.

Outside of the classroom, student engagement in the Farm significantly dropped because of the COVID-19 pandemic limitations. However, students are starting to get involved again. According to Mayer, overall student interest in the Farm is increasing, from poultry to beekeeping. Last year, students mobilized and formed a Future Farmers of America Club and a Fulton Farm Club. Mayer finds this encouraging. While it is commendable that the Farm helps to train farmers in sustainable practices, what’s happening on a smaller scale, like these student interest groups and senior capstone projects, is crucial, she said.

“Imagine students graduating not just with degrees but with the power to become sustainability changemakers, even in their own backyards. Imagine the Farm, not just as a patch of land, but as the keystone of campus, nourishing minds and nurturing the Earth,” she said.

Mayer’s work is making an impression. She recently received an email from a student whom she taught 10 years ago at Wilson. In the email, the student wrote … Hey, remember me? I was in your class, and I just want you to know, we bought our first house. I have a three-year old now, and we just planted a tomato plant in our backyard. Thank you!

Mayer smiles and remarks “That’s one of the finest things I have (ever) received (about) this work.”

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Scarlet’s Letter: Winter 2024

Why hello there!

I do hope all is well with you and yours.

Would you believe I have just concluded my fourth year as a Wilson College feline? Why, if I was a student I would be preparing for my departure! Over the past four years, I have allowed you to have a glimpse into the life of Miss Scarlet, by sharing a little about my past, the friends I have made here, some of my adventures both within and outside of Sharpe House, and what I love about Wilson’s campus. It has occurred to me, though, that perhaps there is more you would like to know about the First Feline. Thus, I open it up to you, and present to you a few questions that I have received from some of my dear readers.

Q: Miss Scarlet, if you could live in any residence hall on campus, where would you choose?

A: Not live in Sharpe House? I shudder at the thought! Still, each of Wilson College’s residence halls has its own advantages; I would have difculty selecting. If I must, I suppose I would choose Riddle Hall, small and elderly, yet regal in appearance, like yours truly. The gorgeous views of the Main Green would help too.

Q: If you could study anything at Wilson, what would you?

A: With so many interesting topics, what an excellent question. Now, you may assume I would choose Animal Science, but if there is one thing I am already an expert at, it is being an animal. Or maybe you think I would study Veterinary Nursing, but I prefer to be taken care of, not do the caring. It may surprise you that I would actually choose to study Business Management. I have big plans for the Miss Scarlet brand, I only need a Wilson education to take me there!

Q: Scarlet, we’re dying to know, are you an Even or an Odd?
A: I will forgive the informality of not addressing me as Miss Scarlet. Now, this is a question I have been asked repeatedly, and only with the help of my dear friend Agatha, the groundhog, did I finally grasp the concept. As to where my allegiances lie, I am conflicted. I arrived at Wilson College during an even year, yet I am drawn to the red color of the odds. Both Evens and Odds have welcomed me into this community. I ask you, dear reader, where do I belong?

Q: Miss Scarlet, which is your favorite part of the Chambersburg community?

A: Chambersburg has been such a lovely community, and welcoming its residents to Sharpe House has been one of my privileges as First Feline. I have also enjoyed attending the many events that occur downtown. Perhaps IceFest has been my favorite, although why Wilson College insists on carving an ice sculpture of Blaze rather than the magnificence of myself, I will never fully understand.

Thank you, dear readers, for all of your questions, and I do hope you have enjoyed gaining some additional insight into my life. I greatly value the relationship that we have built over the past four years and look forward to many more together.

Until next time.

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The Lasting Impact of Estate Planning

Louise Barsy Colgan, a proud alumna from the Class of 1980, and her husband Sean Colgan have chosen to become members of the Conococheague Society and leave a lasting imprint on Wilson College through legacy giving. This decision, rooted in family tradition and personal conviction, symbolizes a profound belief in the College’s future.

The simplicity of adding Wilson to an estate plan, facilitated by the College’s partnership with FreeWill, offers everyone an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. Whether it’s a percentage of your estate, continuing your current gift, or a combination of immediate and bequeathed donations, each choice reflects a commitment to Wilson’s enduring values and future success.

Wilson Magazine asked Louise to share her thoughts about estate giving.

1. Legacy giving is in large part a vote of confidence. What are your hopes for Wilson in the future?

“My hopes for Wilson are focused on providing a high-quality education across a range of fields for students who appreciate the benefits of attending a small liberal arts college.”

2. Why did you and your husband decide to give to Wilson College?

“We decided together to include Wilson in our estate plan. It seemed like a natural solution as we examined our donation options.

Both my mother, Helen Yeager Barsy ’44 (pictured at right), and I are alumnae of the College, so Wilson was a key part of my life growing up. When the time came for me to choose a college, Wilson was my top choice. The beautiful campus and dedicated professors provided a nurturing environment. Being there during the years around 1979 was difficult at times, but I am always truly grateful for my Wilson education.”

3 . What would you tell other alumnae and alumni about giving to the College?

“When the College went co-ed, I struggled to come to terms with the decision for quite a while. I was concerned that Wilson might lose her unique character. After meeting President Fugate and seeing his vision for Wilson’s future, I am convinced that the College still has much to offer. Supporting the College now is vital to ensure a successful future.”

4. There are common misperceptions about legacy giving: It’s too early to think about that. I don’t have enough to make a difference. What is your advice to fellow alums who haven’t begun estate planning yet or who may not have the means to contribute large sums?

“Don’t wait to make a difference. Setting up an estate plan, even early on, seemed wise to us. Sean and I felt greater peace of mind once our wishes were put into place. I believe that contributions at any level will always make a difference.”

Following Louise and Sean’s example is easy. To learn more about the College’s partnership with FreeWill and how you can join the Conococheague Society, please contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 717-262-2010 or

For the Love of Wilson – Why We Give

Brie Willow Burdge ’16

Brie is no stranger to the impact of giving and credits her college experience with discovering a fulfilling career. While at Wilson, she participated in an afterschool tutoring program called The Learning Campus. Motivated by its students, she helped to fundraise for the program and now works as a successful professional fundraiser.

Inspired by the philanthropic support she received as a student and meaningful interactions with Selma Wertime Thomson ’38, every gift she makes to Wilson is in memory of Thomson.

Brie shares “At Wilson, every gift matters. Your contribution, no matter the size, is having a positive impact on the Wilson students of tomorrow. Wilson gave us so much. It’s our duty to make sure she can continue impacting students for years to come.”

Virginia “Ginny” Gehr Stackel ’39

There are donors who can proudly share they have given the largest gift, there are others who have scholarships named after them, but only Virginia can lay claim to being Wilson’s oldest living donor.

During a recent stop in North Carolina, President Wes Fugate and Director of Major Gifts Marybeth Famulare, visited with Virginia and thanked her for her support. (President Wes shares details of their chat on page 4.) Virginia remains a true Wilson cheerleader. Her pride in having attended Wilson is as strong today as it was in the late 1930s and she continues to praise the impact Wilson made on her life.

She encourages fellow alums to give what they can to support Wilson and her students. “I don’t have much to give, but I give what I can.”

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Rising Beyond

A bolder goal for Wilson’s future.

Two years ahead of the scheduled completion of the We Rise: United for Wilson’s Future campaign, Wilson College has surpassed its $16 million fundraising goal and is laying out a bolder goal for the future. Wilson has identified a stretch goal of $20 million to be achieved by June 2025 to fund campus priorities.

“The response from our alumnae, alumni, and friends has just been tremendous,” said Angela Zimmann, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “Just as in times past, Wilson graduates and friends have heard the call for support and answered it by giving generously to the We Rise campaign. I continue to be so humbled by the love the Wilson community has for this great institution.”

The quiet phase of the We Rise campaign began in 2022 and was followed by a public launch at Reunion in June 2023. “The depth to which the Wilson family has stepped up is inspiring,” shared College President Wesley R. Fugate, Ph.D. Originally, the president explained a need for a fundraising goal of $20 million. However, given the uncertain economic environment, the College adopted a more conservative goal. “I have little doubt we will meet and exceed our new goal. These additional funds will help to ensure students today and into the future have the opportunity to experience Wilson and be a proud graduate of this institution – all at an affordable price point.”

The campaign is organized around five priority funding areas: scholarships, growth initiatives, faculty and staff support, debt reduction, and the Wilson Fund and unrestricted giving. Goals for the focus areas are expanding with the new goal of $20 million.

Please join the friends of Wilson in helping to fulfill our strategic initiatives and propel Wilson College into a new era of innovation and opportunity. Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 717.262.2010 or visit

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News Briefs: Winter 2024

Decorated Coach to Lead Women’s Lacrosse

Avery Murphy has been named the new head coach of Women’s Lacrosse. Stepping into the role, she will be building off last year’s spectacular CSAC Championship run and a historic 12-5 record.

Murphy comes to Chambersburg with an impressive resume as both a player and a coach. She joins Wilson after being the head coach at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where she led the Pirates to their best winning percentage in program history. Previously, she was the assistant coach at both King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and Alvernia University in Reading, Pa.

Murphy graduated from Cabrini University in 2019 after a stellar lacrosse career. In three seasons, she led the Cavaliers to three consecutive conference championships—two of which were in the CSAC and resulted in postseason bids to the NCAA tournament—and won three Player of the Year awards.

Tracy Leskey ’90 Honored by National Entomological Society

Tracy C. Leskey, Ph.D. ’90, was honored in November with the Founders’ Memorial Award by the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The Founders’ Memorial Award was established in 1958 to honor the memory of scientists who have made outstanding contributions to entomology.

In addition to the award, Leskey delivered the esteemed Founders’ Memorial Award Lecture at ESA’s annual meeting held at the National Harbor in Maryland. In her remarks, she discussed the renowned work of Ronald J. Prokopy, Ph.D. with fruit flies, specifically the apple maggot fly (Phagoletis pomonella), and his extensive research into integrated pest management methods in apple orchards.

Leskey currently works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service as a research leader and director of the Appalachian Fruit Research Station.

Giving Tuesday Reaches New Heights

November 28, 2023 was a remarkable day for Wilson College and her students. Through the generosity of more than 140 Wilson community members, alumnae, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends, and Trustees, we raised $144,225 in just 24 hours. Simply amazing!

Your contributions set a new historical milestone for Giving Tuesday at Wilson, surpassing our challenge match, and marking a 13% increase in funds raised from last year’s total. This year’s Giving Tuesday dollars benefit the We Rise campaign.

Special thanks to current and former Trustees Robin J. Bernstein, Margaret Hamilton Duprey, Cynthia Dimmick Grove ’63, Lisbeth Sheppard Luka ’69, and Paula Spezza Tishok ’71. Together, their kindness provided a $60,000 matching gift for this year’s Giving Tuesday initiative.

The Power of Women

In September, a team of Wilson leaders donned work gloves and volunteered at the Women Build project for Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County. The day was spent hanging drywall (a new skill for most), helping to construct a single, detached three-bedroom home on Warm Spring Road in Chambersburg. Once complete, the home will be purchased by a single mother of two, through an affordable mortgage.

Women Build events support Habitat’s overall mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Learn more about Women Build projects and Habitat for Humanity at

Student Exhibit Explores Mental Health

Simone Hawkins, a senior Art and Design major, from La Plata, Md., recently presented an exhibition of her senior capstone project at Wilson’s Bogigian Gallery in Lortz Hall.

This exhibition reflects a body of work Hawkins created to explore mental health and the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of its effects on how we think, feel, act, manage stress, relate to others, and make choices. She explores a variety of materials and techniques to express emotional depth through drawn, painted, and photographic form.

In her senior capstone artist statement, she writes, “These works explore mental health through a lens of personal narrative, and hopefully create an opportunity for dialog for those struggling with sound mental health.”

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The President’s Letter: Winter 2024

I used to think that there could not be a person more in love with Wilson College than me. And then I met Virginia Gehr Stackel ’39.

On November 10, Marybeth Famulare, one of our directors of major gifts in Institutional Advancement, and I had the pleasure of visiting with Virginia, just a couple of months prior to her 106th birthday, making her the oldest living donor to Wilson. I have had hundreds of visits with alums since becoming the president of Wilson, and this visit will certainly be a highlight. Each of us can only hope that if we are granted the good fortune to live as long as Virginia has, that we also remain as sharp and engaging as she. Virginia is remarkable!

She was so excited to meet us. She was waiting wearing Wilson blue and silver beads around her neck, and when she learned of my title, she was deeply honored that she would be hosting the president. I wish I could adequately describe her excitement. It was incredibly touching.

Virginia remembered every detail of her Wilson education. She recited the names of those who lived on her floor and what room they lived in. She regaled us with stories of her professors and staff members. Perhaps most touchingly, she recited every word of the Alma Mater, which we did together a few times. This brought much joy to this music loving president.

Her story is an amazing reminder of the power of Wilson. Virginia was the daughter of a pastor and received a half scholarship to attend the College. But after two years, her father was struggling to afford Wilson. When offered a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, she transferred. She described it as one of the worst days of her life. She loved Wilson and the people she had met here; she didn’t want to leave. But she felt she had no choice.

Her story resonated with me deeply. Even today, we have students who cannot afford the benefit of a transformative Wilson education without the help of financial aid. I hope that with your help, we can prevent another Virginia from having to lose the education that she deserves and so badly wants. That is exactly what the We Rise campaign is all about: ensuring that our students, faculty, and staff have the resources they need to receive and deliver a transformative education, and that Wilson continues to grow and thrive into the future.

Virginia closed our conversation by telling me that she doesn’t have much, but she gives what she can because she wants others to experience what she had to give up. I let her know that she was doing just that, and for decades she loyally has.

After the challenging last few years, my visit with Virginia was such an incredible reminder of how important my work is. Our time together will always be some- thing I treasure. Virginia, thank you for your loyalty to Wilson. And thank you for your generosity to make sure future students get to benefit from a Wilson education.

Wesley R. Fugate, Ph.D.

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