So, jog your memory and answer this question: When was the last time you were on the Wilson campus? And, I am talking about really being on campus. You know, park your car, get out, walk around, go into a building. Because giving a little wave as you drive by doesn’t count. Everyone is busy. You don’t always get to Chambersburg, I get that. But, I do know that sometimes you just need a little inspiration. And that’s why you need to keep reading. While you only need one reason to come back to campus and remember the role that Wilson played in shaping your life, I’m going to give you a few. So stop by, check the place out, see how much it has changed – and yet stayed the same. 1. New Entrance: Wilson’s new front door is located on Park Avenue. What a great first impression for prospective students, families, and friends. 2. Learning Quad: Beautiful green space between the John Stewart Memorial Library and the Brooks Science Complex which ties together the academic buildings of campus, along with Warfield and Lortz. 3. John Stewart Memorial Library: Combining the old with the new. The stacks are the same but check out the new study rooms and classrooms, computer labs, commuter lounge, comfortable sitting around the building, displays, café and campus store. 4. Get some gear: Be honest -- that Wilson sweatshirt in your closet is looking pretty grungy, isn’t it? We can fix that. The Campus Store has many ways to show off some Wilson pride. 5. Athletic Events: Whether you are a participant or a spectator, Wilson has ten sports teams. And, next year we’ll be in a new conference – the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Check out the schedules and go to a game. Cheer on your alma mater. 6. Students: What better way to be engaged than to connect with current students? Support student programs. Be a mentor. Give to our internship fund or provide an internship at your place of business. Be an Aunt Sarah. Meet students and listen to their stories – and share your story with them. Make good things happen. Coming back is a chance to return home to your alma mater and rediscover the spirit and culture that first compelled you to become a member of the Wilson Family.
Mary F. Cramer '91
President, Alumnae Association of Wilson College
Mary Cramer '91
Dorothy M. Van Brakle '06, '09
Maxine Lesher Gindlesperger '98
Karen McMullen Freeman '76
Lynne DiStasio ’74
Judith Coen Grove ’74
Sue Ann Morin Cook ’81
Samantha Ainuddin '94
Carole Stoehr Ashbridge '70
Patricia Bennett '68
Rita Handwerk Fisk '64
Amanda Clever '14
Amanda Harrity '07
Lisa Havilland '04
Alaina Hofer Irvin '11
Susan Mowen '97
Martha Estep O'Brien '65
Susan Smith '70
Janelle Wills '14
Katelyn Wingerd '16
Carol Zehosky '12, '15
Leslie Hickland Hanks '70
Mary Lingle McGough '10
was officially incorporated on October 8, 1917, but the history of the organization really began on a June evening in 1879, ten years after the founding of the College, when Miss Abby Goodsell invited a few local alumnae to her parlor for tea. They quickly formed a group called "Associate Alumnae" and crafted a constitution with a straightforward purpose: "to support the interests of the College and to maintain a spirit of fellowship among its graduates." Under the leadership of their first president, Mary Lane Wells (1874), the alumnae assessed dues of $1 per year with a $5 initiation fee and began raising money to redecorate a parlor for joint use with the College.
The first alumnae luncheon and business meetings were held at the College in 1891 with the encouragement and support of the Rev. John Edgar, president from 1883 to 1894. Realizing the potential of alumnae to help support the College, he suggested and funded the first regional alumnae luncheon, held in Philadelphia in April 1892, a gala affair at the Stratford Hotel with 80 people present. A similar function was held in Pittsburgh in 1896.
Embryonic alumnae clubs were formed and alumnae began meeting in distant areas. The Trustees added $50 to the salaries of two women faculty members in 1889 to compile accurate lists of students and alumnae. The clubs grew in number and provided a nationwide support network for the College, donating gifts, services and financial support, in a tradition that continues to this day.
The unexpected death of President Edgar in 1894 saddened the alumnae, who soon raised $650 for a Tiffany memorial window in Edgar Hall, and by 1912 the Association had raised $30,000 to establish the Edgar Chair of English. The signature window, which has been carefully restored by stained-glass artisans in Philadelphia, is displayed on the first-floor lobby of Lenfest Commons.
In 1927, the Alumnae Association lent the Trustees $20,000 to purchase a building adjacent to campus called Penn Hall (later renamed Alumnae Hall). This building served the College well as a dormitory and a classroom building until it was taken down in the late 1980s. Since the early days of the Alumnae Association, alumnae have contributed generously to the construction and renovation of virtually every building on campus. When the stately Sharpe House was renovated in 2001 as the new home of Wilson's president, alumnae donated a number of period interior furnishings.
Historically, Wilson College alumnae also have played a significant role in the recruitment of new students through individualized contacts and a variety of initiatives coordinated through the College's Office of Admissions. Regional clubs have provided scholarship assistance and opportunities for alumnae to meet prospective students and parents.
The Alumnae Association has evolved over time. Edna Hafer (1911), an instructor in the biology department, was the first full-time general secretary. She was succeeded by Gertrude Hoyt Parry (1925) who served a distinguished term of 36 years (1931-1967), and in 1967 was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of her service to the College and the Alumnae Association. In 1969, the Alumnae Association's Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees of Wilson College agreed that the Alumnae Office would become part of the College structure. The Association's assets became part of the College endowment, and membership in the Association was offered free to all alumnae. Engaging an ever-growing base of alumnae scattered around the country and the world in the work of the College and providing opportunities for networking have been important parts of the Alumnae Association's mission.
Perhaps the greatest single accomplishment of the Association occurred in less than 100 days in 1979. The devotion of Wilson College alumnae was never more evident than when the Board of Trustees, citing declining enrollment and financial difficulties, suddenly announced on February 19, 1979, that the College would close on June 30. Reacting to this announcement, the Alumnae Association Board of Directors immediately gathered pertinent information, decided to seek legal recourse and to support the already formed Save Wilson Committee. Enlisting students, faculty, friends of the College and alumnae around the world, the Save Wilson Committee gathered volumes of support material. The Association twice appealed to the Board of Trustees to reverse the decision, without success. In less than three months, the committee representing the Alumnae Association raised $1.1 million, and in Franklin County Orphan's Court, on May 25, just two days before what was to have been Wilson's last commencement, Judge John W. Keller ruled that the College could not be closed without prior approval of the court. Commencement was a celebration, a victory and a most joyous occasion. Just a few days later, 800 alumnae celebrated the preservation of the College at the 100th anniversary of the Alumnae Association in a spirit of thankfulness and jubilation.
Energized by the spirit of alumnae volunteers of 1979, the Association moved into the next decade. Alumnae strengthened their connections with Wilson students by reinstituting the Alumnae Association's undergraduate financial awards with the creation of a new loan program: The Alumnae Student Contract (TASC) was created by Dr. Marilyn Mumford (1956) who envisioned "an alumna caring for a student who would then become another alumna caring for a student in turn." Another notably successful idea was the Aunt Sarah Program, created by Carolyn Trembley Shaffer (1950) and named after the College's benefactress, Sarah Wilson, which encourages an alumna "to adopt" a student during their four years at Wilson.
Wilson women have given generously to their alma mater. Since 1979 Wilson has been among the top colleges and universities in the country in alumnae giving percentages. Alumnae contributions for capital improvements have totaled millions of dollars. In the most recent $57 million Forever More Capital Campaign, alumnae contributions were the most significant proportion. During the late 1990s and into the beginning of this century, the College's endowment has been strengthened by the generous giving of alumnae, particularly by Marguerite Brooks Lenfest (1955) and her husband Gerry, who made the largest gift ever to Wilson College and established funding programs in support of the College's innovative Women with Children Program. Through the generous bequests of Wilson alums, the College's endowment has risen to $44 million.
In an effort to recognize the myriad contributions made by Wilson College alumnae, Alumnae Association President Julia Billings Crothers (1938) proposed in 1983 that alumnae awards be established to honor outstanding achievement and service to the College. These awards are the Distinguished Alumnae Award (1983), the Ruth Redding Leitch Recruitment Award (1988), the Outstanding Young Alumnae Award (1989) and the Tift College Award (1989) for devoted service to Wilson College.
Preservation of the institutional memory of the College and the Alumnae Association owes much to the perseverance of C. Elizabeth Boyd (1933), who worked diligently to organize the College archives as a volunteer and later became the College's archivist from 1979 to 1994. In 1991, she was deservedly honored with the naming of the C. Elizabeth Boyd '33 Archival Center. Alumnae assisted Miss Boyd's efforts through the Restoration and Preservation Committee of the Alumnae Association. Following Miss Boyd's retirement as archivist in September 1994, Dr. Kay Ackerman, then assistant professor of history, was named Wilson's archivist. In 1996, Joan Hankey (1959) a member of the Restoration and Preservation Committee of the Alumnae Association, recognized the needs of the archives, and she and her family established the Wilson Archives Endowment. The endowment helped make possible the appointment of Dr. Wanda Finney as Wilson's first full-time, professional archivist in 1998, and the state-of-the-art Hankey Center was opened in 2003 as the College's permanent archives in the building that had served as the president's home from 1905 to 2001.
In past years, revenue from Wilson College Alumnae Association-sanctioned credit card provided funds to help students cover the costs of internships. In 2001, the Alumnae Association sponsored the first of many international tours designed to provide travel opportunities for alumnae and generate funds for the Association. President Betty Jane Weller Lee '57 participated in the first alumnae trip with 42 alums and friends to Italy, a trip that was marred only by news of the calamitous attack on the World Trade Center that coincided with the end of the scheduled trip. In 2004, the Alumnae Association participated in celebrations commemorating the 25th anniversary of the landmark court decision that "saved Wilson," recognizing early efforts in those critical days to ensure the College's survival.
Through more than a century of trials and triumphs, the Wilson College alumnae have emerged as a remarkable group of talented and devoted women, possessing unusual strength of character and the ability to get things done. Wilson owes a great deal to them, but the greatest gift they ask of Wilson is her continuation as a strong proponent of a liberal arts education for women who will become leaders and contributors to society.
During Reunion 2017, the Alumnae Association will once again sponsor a round-robin raffle to raise funds for the association’s operating budget.
The raffle rules are easy:
tickets can be purchased for $2 a ticket, or seven for $10. Drop your ticket into the jar for the item or items you are interested in and cross your fingers for luck. Prizes will be drawn the evening of Saturday, June 3. Take any winnings home with you.
The association is also currently accepting donations for the raffle. Donate a piece of Wilson memorabilia (in good condition), a merchant gift card, a themed basket or an item personally tied to your business, hobby or art.
For more information on the raffle or how to donate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
*AAWC reserves the right to deem some donations better suited for its garage sale.
The Alumnae Association of Wilson College has created the Silver Lining Fund to help students who are experiencing a time of crisis or financial need. The fund will provide students with a limited amount of immediate cash to get through their initial crisis.
During the 2014-15 academic year, several students encountered crises that required emergency funds. These directly impacted the students’ ability to continue their education at Wilson. Out of these experiences, the idea of the Silver Lining Fund was launched by the association board during the 2015 Reunion Weekend. Learn more here.
Please make donations payable to AAWC with Silver Lining Fund in the memo line. Mail to AAWC, 1015 Philadelphia Ave., Chambersburg, PA 17201.
As a way to support and foster the emotional ties and traditions of the College, Wilson alumnae and students, the program matches donated rings with current students. These legacies “ring it forward” to a new generation of Wilson alumnae. The Alumnae Association of Wilson College is grateful for these donor alumnae’s generosity. The rings’ new owners will add their Wilson stories to those of alumnae as they participate in this tradition.
Please assist the NEW Campus Food Pantry (Sarah’s Cupboard) by bringing along a few items to donate (donation boxes available at the alumnae house or at security in Lenfest).
Items needed: full boxes of cereal, heat and serve single serve food, mac & cheese (microwavable), peanut butter and jelly (plastic jars), pasta sauce (plastic jars), pasta (boxes), canned chicken, crackers, disposable salt and pepper shakers.
Please NO Ramen noodles or granola bars at this time.
We have recently purchased a refrigerator and freezer and will soon be able to offer frozen meals, milk, eggs, cheese and other longer shelf life items.
Monetary donations may be made to Wilson College with “food pantry” in the memo line.
Online voting will close on June 1, before Reunion Weekend. Members can vote in person during the annual Alumnae Association General Meeting, which will be held from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, in Brooks Auditorium.
The AAWC nominating committee presented the following slate of officers and directors for terms running from 2017-20:
Maxine Lesher Gindlesperger ’98 graduated from Wilson with a degree in liberal studies. Every well-oiled machine needs someone to keep watch over its inner complexities, and at eLynxx Solutions, that person is Gindlesperger. Since 1989, her roles and responsibilities have followed the growth of eLynxx Solutions, and today she is responsible for managing the financial, personnel, support and facilities operations that keep the company running on a daily basis. She has received the AAWC Distinguished ADP Alumna/us Award and has been active in the Aunt Sarah program and the College’s career development events. She has been a member of the AAWC board since 2014, serving on the finance and student connections committees. She has also served as chair of the Franklin County Homeless Shelter Coalition.
In her own words: “Wilson College is not only an integral part of the community in which I live, but equally important, it holds a well-earned international reputation for excellence among liberal arts colleges. As secretary of the AAWC, I will employ my extensive business and community experience to promote the College so that others may gain the same kind of positive influence that Wilson has had on my life.”
Alumnae Trustee (to the College Board of Trustees):
Judith Coen Grove ’74 graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and went on to work for more than two decades in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of the Budget, ultimately auditing invoices for the Departments of Public Welfare, Health and Aging. She currently works as a customer service associate in the pricing office at Wegmans. While a student at Wilson, she worked as an administrative assistant in the admissions office. She served on the AAWC board from 1987-89 and 2014-16, and was elected last year to a term running from 2016-19. She has served on the board’s nominating and heritage committees.
In her own words: “During my visits to campus since I’ve been on the AAWC Board of Directors, I’ve been encouraged by the positive attitudes of students and staff. Even as programs have evolved to be more relevant to today’s students, the rich history and traditions of the College are still respected and upheld. Wilson is a vibrant and exciting institution and I look forward to supporting the vision and goals of the Board of Trustees in whatever way I can.”
Samantha Ainuddin ’94 graduated from Wilson with a degree in mass communications and has led a long and varied career in television news and sports that has taken her all over the country, working for ESPN, PBS, Turner Studios, Fox Sports and NBC. She has been a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, serving on various committees, including Emmy Awards judging. She is a breast cancer survivor who has been an active fundraiser for several organizations, including the Susan G. Komen Foundation in Philadelphia and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Boston. She has been a member of the AAWC board of directors since 2014, serving on the engagement and finance committees.
In her own words: “Alumnae were a constant presence on campus when I was a student in the ’90s. They were role models for many of us …The giants for me were Carolyn Trembley Shaffer ’50, Carol Tschop ’72 and the legendary Miss Boyd (Miss C. Elizabeth Boyd ’33). As editor of the Billboard, I was very taken with Wilson’s history and interviewed Miss Boyd on several occasions for the student paper. I can only hope I can bring a fraction of what they did to the alumnae association.”
Amanda Clever ’14 has worked as a licensed veterinary technician at the Shippensburg Animal Hospital in Shippensburg, Pa., since receiving her bachelor’s degree in veterinary medical technology from Wilson. While a student, she served as secretary and treasurer of the Wilson College Government Association (WCGA), and as treasurer for her class and president of Pre-Vet Club. She also was head tour guide for admissions. She is a volunteer receptionist at the Pregnancy Resource Center and is active in the AAWC’s Aunt Sarah program.
In her own words: “As a member of the alumnae board, I look forward to building connections and strengthening relationships among all Wilson members—from alumnae to students to professors/staff to trustees—to make us one unified spirit. I hope to bring more support from recent alumnae/i to use their specialized
gifts in furthering the mission of the College and supporting the current students.”
Alaina Hofer Irvin ’11 is a professional school counselor in the Prince George’s County public school system in Maryland. She graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, and then received her Master of Education degree from Shippensburg University. While at Wilson, she served as WCGA president and was president and vice president of her class. She also was a resident assistant for three years. She was a scholar-athlete who was captain of the Phoenix women’s basketball team and a member of soccer team, and currently volunteers as a track coach for the Prince George’s school system.
In her own words: “During my term of service, I wish to bridge and expand the relationships between the association, the board and Wilson students. We have a great start with the Aunt Sarah program and various events throughout the year, but I wish to increase face time and support for our students. We, the alumnae/i, are their biggest assets in terms of continuing commitment to the College, resources and support. We are a small institution, but we are MIGHTY and need to continue to share, support and give to each other.”
Susan Graham Mowen ’97 is certified to educate students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and to teach high school literature and special education students. She currently teaches English language arts to sixth-grade students in Clear Spring, Md. Before becoming an educator, Mowen was an on-air personality for local radio stations and a copywriter for TV-25, a local television station. She graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and received a master’s in curriculum and technology from the University of Phoenix .She has been a member of the AAWC board since 2014, serving on the board’s engagement and recognition and stewardship committees. Her daughter, Katelin, is a member of the Class of 2017.
In her own words: “I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a member of the alumnae board. I have had the pleasure of working with great alums who share my love of Wilson. We are ‘sisters’ who have the goal of helping alumni (past, present and future) be a part of the Wilson family. My hope for the upcoming term is to help others be more involved. I would like to have more alums visit during Fall Weekend and wish to work with my Wilson sisters on how to make that possible. I am always ready to support my sister board members in any activity or idea, and will continue to give my best to each.”
Susan Smith ’70 is an educational consultant who served as vice president for institutional advancement and vice president of academic affairs at Gloucester County College in New Jersey, as well as assistant superintendent and principal for several New Jersey public schools. She is the author and editor of 21 publications, studies and other documents related to planning, curriculum, educational policy and technology. She has been a board member, officer and committee member/chair for 23 not-for-profit, community support and educational organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, Girl Scouts, chambers of commerce and workforce investment boards, from 1976 to present. She graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in English, received two master’s degrees from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in New Jersey and has a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
In her own words: “Wilson has been part of my life for many years. I look forward to listening and learning about its current status and how I can help the College move forward.”
Dorothy M. Van Brakle ’06 and ’09 is a graduate of the Adult Degree Program (ADP) at Wilson College. She received her associate degree in business management from Wilson in 2006 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business and economics in 2009. After beginning her career with the federal government as a clerk, she retired in September 2016 after 35 years of service at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, where she was the chief of the logistics division and supervised more than 100 employees. She served four years as an alumnae trustee on the College’s Board of Trustees. She has also served on the AAWC board’s engagement and recognition and stewardship committees.
In her own words: “The Wilson experience is such a personal one that it is different for every student, but especially so for ADP students, who don't really have much contact with the traditions of the school. I would like to see that change and hopefully find a way to include the ADP students in more of the activities and traditions of the school. Now that I have retired, I hope to be able to devote more time to find a way for the AAWC to be engaged with the ADP students and ADP alumnae/i. I will be actively working over this next term on the board to find a solution to building a relationship to the College with this important cohort of students and alums.”
Leslie H. Hanks ’70 is a retired elementary school teacher. She taught for 35 years in the Washington County public school system in Maryland as a classroom teacher, library media specialist, staff developer and intervention teacher. After graduating from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she received a master’s degree in early childhood education from Shippensburg University. She has served on the nominating committee and student connections committee for the AAWC board for the past three years.
In her own words: “I appreciate the opportunity to represent others on the alumnae board. Serving on the board in the past has helped me to learn about the progress being made at Wilson and appreciate the College's current events.”