Wilson College will be celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2019-2020 – there could not be a better time to visit our beautiful campus! Make the effort, because you will be glad you did.
We all have memories of “our” Wilson. Our classmates and friends, professors, courses and even the administration shaped our experience of Wilson College, and very likely helped shape the lives we lived after Wilson. Our personal Wilson experiences capture and freeze a segment of time, and these segments have varied considerably over the 150 years that Wilson has been welcoming students.
Campus is comfortingly familiar in so many ways, but new and fresh in so many other ways.
When you visit, you no longer enter at the bend in Philadelphia Avenue. You now enter at the Park Avenue intersection past the bend in Philadelphia Avenue, and instead of being on an unpaved road to the back of campus, you enter with a view of the Academic Quad, a beautiful green space that links the John Stewart Memorial Library and Warfield Hall to the Harry R. Brooks Science Complex, Lortz Hall and soon to be a new Veterinary Education Center. This new entrance puts you on the familiar loop road through campus, past many buildings you will recognize, but they have changed. The Library, in particular, is now a campus hub, housing not only book stacks, but study rooms, computer labs, a commuter lounge, lots of informal seating areas, display spaces, a café and the Campus Store. The Hankey Center, once the home of Wilson’s president, now contains the archives, of course, but it also actively interprets the contents of the archival material and connects the story of Wilson and its people to events and developments in the world at large. You will find our nationally-ranked Fulton Farm back there, too, and Penn Hall Equestrian Center. Our excellent Nursing program is housed in the area that was once the lounge and connecting areas of Disert and Rosenkrans Halls.
The students you will meet on campus today are no less enthusiastic about Wilson than you were. Take in a sporting event, here or at an away game. Help today’s students, if you can, with contributions to the Silver Lining Fund or the Internship Fund, or connect with them, as a mentor, the host of an internship, or as an Aunt Sarah. If you are in the neighborhood, perhaps drop off a bag of the groceries stocked in Sarah’s Cupboard.
If your life after Wilson has found you nearby, either full-time or just passing through, this is a wonderful time to take a moment and stop in for a visit. If you live farther afield, this would be a great time to plan a visit to Chambersburg, whether for a reunion (it doesn’t have to be “your” year for a reunion – all are welcome!) or to attend one of the events that will be held to recognize and celebrate Wilson’s anniversary.
We’d love to welcome you back!
Lynne E. DiStasio '74
President of the 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 email@example.com
*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.
Click here to see an overview of alumnae/i events and programs at Wilson: Alum/Student Activity Overview.pdf
June 1-3, 2018
Celebrating classes ending in 3 & 8
Watch for your reunion 2018 brochure in the Winter Wilson Magazine
Reunion 2018 is quickly approaching which means the planning period for Reunion 2019 is right around the corner!
Class Officers join us for Fall Weekend, September 28 - 30 to begin planning.
Save the dates for next year: May 31 - June 2 celebrating classes ending in 4 & 9
Online voting will close on May 31 before Reunion Weekend begins. Members can vote in person during the annual Alumnae Association of Wilson College General Meeting from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 2, in Brooks Auditorium.
The AAWC Nominating Committee presents the slate of officers and directors for terms running 2018 through 2021:
Lynne E. DiStasio ’74 attended Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Ga., after graduating from Wilson, and practiced law in New York. She worked at MetLife for 32 years, mostly as an attorney, but also as vice president of employee relations and chief diversity officer for the company before she retired. She was a member of the executive committee of the AAWC Board of Directors, served as AAWC alumna trustee and is the chair of the civics and legislation committee of the Women’s Club of Massapequa, N.Y.
In her own words: “I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to assume the leadership of the AAWC as the College moves into its second 150 years. We have the wonderful chance to connect an increasingly diverse membership in this association to the College in ways that are meaningful and useful to both alumnae/i and current students. We all have different opinions and points of view on many issues, but we share an abiding affection for Wilson—what it was when we attended, what it is for students today, and what it can become for the students of the future. I ask for your support in focusing on this common ground, as this association and the College move forward to meet the needs, aspirations and dreams of our alumnae/i and current and future students.”
Maxine Lesher Gindlesperger ’98 graduated from Wilson with a degree in liberal studies. Since 1989, she has worked for eLynxx Solutions in Chambersburg in various capacities and today is the company’s chief administrative officer. She has received the Distinguished ADP Alumna/us Award from the AAWC 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 2015, serving on the finance and student connections committees. She has also served as chair for the Franklin County Homeless Shelter Coalition and as chair of personnel for the Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, Pa.
In her own words: “With the experiences gained during my initial term, I believe I am better equipped to assist the board accomplish its mission. I would like to gain the increased participation from alumnae/i who have not yet been active and engaged with the College following their graduation.”
Carole Ashbridge ’70 credits Wilson College with giving her the tools for a rewarding 35-year career as a school library media specialist. She received her Master of Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh and was a member of the American Library Association. Since 2012, she has worked as a genealogist for North Hills Genealo- gists outside of Pittsburgh. She has served as vice chair of the AAWC Heritage Committee and serves as her class correspondent.
In her own words: “I have served on the AAWC board since 2015. In those three years, the College has made giant strides in transitioning from a women’s college to a co-educational one, while still keeping the Wilson traditions strong. I welcome the opportunity to work toward strengthening the relationships between the College, her heritage and the alumnae of the past and future.”
Cody R. Dunlap ’18 is majoring in financial mathematics and eco- nomics and expects to graduate this May. He is active in the Wilson College Government Association (WCGA), serving as WCGA president during the 2016-17 school year and as chief justice in 2017-18. Since 2015, he has been the student representative to the college Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee and is responsible for presenting WCGA finances to the board.
In his own words: “I am the person I am today because of my Wilson experience. I want to join the alumnae board in order to give back to Wilson all that it has given me. I want to be able to interact with students as much as possible, in the hopes of adding to their Wilson experience. I want to be as active on the board and in the middle of the events as much as possible!”
Amanda Harrity ’07 currently works for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania as the member service specialist/special projects, managing the sales force customer service database. She is also pursuing a Master of Social Work at Widener University in West Chester, Pa., and is working as a social work extern at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia. While she was attending Wilson, she was WCGA vice president and a student tour admissions representative from 2004-07.
In her own words: “I feel I can help the board continue to integrate alumnae/i into the college events. Considering how Wilson nurtured me as a young woman, I want to contribute to the campus, helping alumnae/i continue to benefit from Wilson’s collegial network. During this term of service, I plan to broaden the ways alumnae/i receive information, perhaps expanding platforms of sharing Wilson information via social media to foster a more engaged alumnae/i network.”
Lisa Havilland ’04 currently lives in Gaithersburg, Md. She is a family law attorney, practicing in Maryland and Washington, D.C. She previously worked as a judicial law clerk for the Judge Julie Stevenson Solt in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Md., after she received her law degree from the George Washington University Law School in May 2016. She is an avid horseback rider and enjoys fox-chasing side saddle and spending time with her fox hound, Melrose.
In my own words: “I am interested in continuing my service to the AAWC, so I can ensure that Wilson’s wonderful customs and traditions continue to live on. I am also interested in creating positivity between the association, the College, and the alumnae/i. If elected, I promise to listen to the alumnae and current students and do the best I can to serve their needs and wants. Wilson changed my life, and I want to make sure it continues to be a special place for future graduates.”
Sarah Tackling Keebaugh ’05 is currently the director of contracting at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, where she oversees an office of 35 employees. She has held various positions at Letterkenny since 2004, including working as a budget support analyst for training support at Camp Aachen in Bayern, Germany. She served as Wilson’s soccer coach from 2007-09. After graduating from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in business, she received her MBA from Shippensburg University.
In her own words: “Wilson provided the foundation of knowledge and leadership skills that has allowed me to be successful. I would like to give back to the College and the current student population, and be part of the lasting impression Wilson makes to her students. As a board member I hope to bring alumnae/i and students together to provide membership and support opportunities.”
Amanda Vogel Kenney ’17 holds a Bachelor of Arts in English for Secondary Education and teaches 11th and 12th-grade English language arts, fundamentals of 21st century communication and literature at Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society. She lives in Chambersburg with her husband, Sean, and two children. While at Wilson, she spent her time volunteering to co-lead a support group within the counseling center, planting trees along the Wilson campus and writing poetry for the Bottom Shelf Review and the Conococheague. She was the ADP speaker at the May 2017 commencement ceremony, where she spoke of the value of time and her desire to encourage others to join her in making our community and world a better place.
In her own words: “For me, Wilson was a home away from home. Despite it being a mere seven minutes from where I live, I found that during my time within the “four walls” of Wilson, I came to find a comfort, maturity and education that has left me forever grateful. I have a desire to support current and future students and bring Wilson’s many strong suits to the community. I have served the community through volunteer efforts and hope to continue to do so through this new journey.”
The Rev. Lois A. Wolff ’67 is a retired Presbyterian minister and English teacher. The congregations where she was pastor include First Presbyterian Church of Bainbridge, N.Y., and Guilford Center Presbyterian Church in Guilford Center, N.Y. She received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. She taught English at the Morris Knolls High School in Denville, N.J., and then taught gifted and talented students in kindergarten through 5th grade in Ramsey, N.J. She served as president pro-tem, vice president and secretary of the Ramsey Teachers Association in New Jersey and is her class correspondent.
In her own words: “I would like to serve on the alumnae board because my years at Wil- son were a time of significant growth for me personally, intellectually and spiritually. I arrived as a shy, introverted teenager and graduated four years later as a fairly self-assured young woman with an idea of where I was going and what my strengths were. I would like to help today’s Wilson students to experience similar growth. During my term of service I would appreciate a closer relationship with the College, and am interested in developing relationships with some current students.”
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.”