Giant Steps Enters Next Phase

CLAYTON HUBER ’21 | STAFF WRITER • Wabash’s Giant Steps Campaign: Last semester, President Gregory Hess announced the beginning of Giant Steps: A Campaign for Wabash College. This campaign consists of raising the endowment fund for Wabash. It is primarily focused on raising funds to:

* Further endow Wabash’s generous scholarship programs

* Fund our brilliant professorships, chairs, and academic programs

* Provide amazing immersive learning experiences for all Wabash students

* Fund capital projects, the Annual Fund, and engage the next generation of volunteer leaders

This campaign is the dawn of a new Wabash experience. It aims to focus on increasing the Financial Aid for Wabash men and lowering the average graduating debt. According to the Giant Steps Campaign website, “nearly 100 percent of Wabash students receive some form of student aid. And after four years, the average Wabash student still graduates with $28,000 in debt.” The administration wants to raise the bar for Wabash men. They want to provide the future generation of Wabash men the financial aid for those bright minds that turn away from the Scarlet and White because of monetary issues. When selecting a college or university, sadly, money is always the key factor in deciding where to attend. The administration knows it weakness and wants to improve on it. “To continue our tradition, we need you to take a Giant Step for student scholarships. To recruit the brightest, boldest, most innovative men – men who are up to the challenge – Wabash must invest in scholarships” (Taken directly from the Giant Steps Campaign).

In addition, this ambitious and giant stride in Wabash fundraising history is focused on funding our professorships and academic programs. Wabash College provides its young men an experience like no other with its faculty and academics. The college has professors like Professors of Religion Derek Nelson ’99 and Jonathan Baer, who both earned their Ph.D.’s at Yale University. According to the Giant Steps Campaign website, “[Wabash College] asks our faculty like Drs. Nelson and Baer to make giant commitments of time and talent to Wabash men. Yet, Wabash ranks in the middle of the pack in its peer group for faculty salaries.”

For professors to reach their full potential, great minds like Nelson and Baer need giant help. When recruiting and retaining the best professors, Wabash College needs people to take Giant Steps for the college and invest in endowed faculty chairs and professorships.

The Wabash College experience is unique in comparison to every college in the world. Wabash ranks nationally in its internship program which places men in businesses like Eli Lilly, Chase, and Amazon. The college also offers its students the opportunities to travel to different locations around the world like Spain, South Africa, and England. Wabash wants to offer these immersion programs at no additional cost. Experience is everything when it comes to internships and immersion programs. Wabash wants its students to have the knowledge and experience that immersion trips give at no cost. “Giant experiences can provide a giant lift to recruiting students — and building men. It is time to say ‘yes’ to experiences that will give Wabash men a competitive edge. To ensure an innovative Wabash liberal arts education, we must take Giant Steps and invest in amazing student learning experiences.” (Giant Steps Campaign).


The housing issue on campus is also a concern the Giant Steps Campaign is ready
to combat. For Wabash College to keep its recognition of being an elite liberal arts college, the campus must continue to improve each year with upgrades to facilities and houses. Last semester, Wabash College faced a housing issue with the class of 2022, the largest class Wabash has enrolled in a long time. This campaign focuses on building
and renovating both Greek and independent housing to provide spacious and enjoyable living units.

When discussing the campaign with Joe Klen ‘97, Associate Dean for College Advancement and Campaign Director, Klen had strong emotions about the new, ambitious and giant fundraiser. “When we do things, we think how we are impacting students as a result of what we are doing,” Klen said. “If we increase opportunities for students, then we say it was success on.”

“This is bold. It is giant,” Michelle Janssen, Dean of College Advancement, said about the campaign. “Schools that are double our size have similar goals, just to put it in context.” The administration knows that Wabash College can do better and wants to improve the campus and experience.

This campaign is spread out across the country. Some of the Red-Letter events where you can learn and contribute are in Cincinnati, Evansville, and Bloomington. These events promote the message of how and why Wabash needs philanthropy gifts to enhance the Wabash experience.

The Giant Steps Campaign’s main purpose is to ameliorate the campus overall. The administration wants to see change and improvements on campus so that the future generations of Wabash men can enjoy their four-year experience.