Ringing-in | Concluding ‘Giant Steps’ | New campus center
On August 19, 2023, President Scott Feller rang in the newest class of Wabash students. In doing so, the 17th President of Wabash College officially began the 2023-24 academic school year.
“I thought we had a really positive Ringing-In Saturday,” said Feller. “I think move-in was smooth and the students were excited to be here. The families seemed really excited and motivated by what they saw. Personally, I was impressed with the New Student Orientation Mentors and the other students who helped with this process. I think it was a good look for the College that there weren’t really grownups directing traffic. It was very student-led so I thought that was a good signal to send right off the bat.”
“We set out to raise $225,000,000. And at the end of the day, it was more like $250,000,000.”President Scott Feller
Prior to the start of the 2023-24 academic school year, the Giant Steps campaign closed at the end of the 2023 spring semester and marked a landmark achievement for President Feller. The campaign came to a close after raising over $250,000,000, exceeding its goal by $25,000,000 and witnessing over 12,000 alumni and friends of the College make donations.
“We set out to raise $225,000,000,” said Feller. “And at the end of the day, it was more like $250,000,000. We’re well past the goal of what we set out for and I think we still have a lot of momentum. We again achieved 40% of alumni who gave to the College this year, so this is going to be a big celebration. This is a giant moment for Wabash College.”
“When you look around this place, if you look at a building, it was built on philanthropy. That’s a big part of this.”President Scott Feller
To celebrate the success of the Giant Steps campaign and honor those who donated and worked on the project, Wabash will be hosting a two-day celebration on October 6 and 7.
“This semester, it might not be a focal point for the students, but a focal point for the alumni will be the celebration in October of the conclusion of the Giant Steps Campaign,” said Feller. “There’s a home football game and then we’ll have a big celebration. I think that’ll bring folks to campus and also bring some good energy and give us time to be grateful for what people have done for all of us who participated or worked on the campaign.”
Although the Giant Steps campaign only just concluded, more is on the horizon to begin thinking about as Wabash enters its bicentennial in 2032.
“We’re going to continue to find things to celebrate,” said Feller. “We’ll start to think in real terms about the next big celebration for Wabash College, which will be our bicentennial in 2032. That’s a big deal. Not a lot of organizations make it 200 years. So I think we should start thinking about what that means to us. How are we going to celebrate that? What do we want to think about as we go into our third century? I think that’ll be a real focus of something we can think about and begin to set goals for.”
Last year, The Bachelor reported on plans for a Student Center to be built where the Sparks Center currently stands. The project is expected to be a multi-year initiative with the goal to limit disruption to student life during construction and eventually open a building that will improve the student experience at Wabash College tremendously.
“This will be the most expensive project in the history of Wabash College and one of the most complex because we’ll have to be very disruptive. That’s the best real estate on campus. It’s the corner of the mall, the Allen Center, the library.”President Scott Feller
“We’ve done focus groups,” said Feller. “We’ve had drawings rendered. I know people are probably tired of having us ask for their opinions, but we do want to get it right. The Sparks Center has been there for nearly 70 years, so this building has to be right.”
President Feller expects the design phase to be done this fall, but wants to ensure that all of the student and faculty needs are being met.
“Outside of the design process, we’ve been talking to friends of the College who might be interested in supporting philanthropically,” said Feller. “When you look around this place, if you look at a building, it was built on philanthropy. That’s a big part of this. Just as the design team has been working in one direction, the Advancement team has been working alongside in parallel basically taking what we’ve heard from students and community members about the need for a campus center, what it can do for us and then sharing that with friends of the College and saying this is the need of the College. This is what the students need.”
The last factor to consider during pre-construction is how to complete the project with limited disruption to students. Because the Sparks Center is the main area where independent student meals are served, Wabash will need to find temporary meal service for those students. Because the land is located within the heart of campus, construction will need to be done in a way where students are still able to attend the Lilly Library, academic buildings, and the Allen Center.
“This will be the most expensive project in the history of Wabash College and one of the most complex because we’ll have to be very disruptive,” said Feller. “That’s the best real estate on campus. It’s the corner of the mall, the Allen Center, the library. It’s the best spot we have and we’re going to have to dig a big hole.”