Winter 2024 / Special Section

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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