This year, Wabash welcomes Ron Dostal ’92 as the College’s Director of Alumni and Affinity Group Engagement. With this new role, the former Deloitte consultant and early retiree will come out of retirement to spearhead the efforts to attract new donors, increase student and alumni interaction and create new avenues for alumni to give back time and talent to the College.
Some on campus will likely recognize Dostal, given his previous involvement with CIBE, his spot on the Lilly Awards Selection Committee and most recently his TedX talk held last spring. His passion for serving the Wabash community has only grown in recent years, so it comes as little surprise he is taking on his new role with such enthusiasm. Even during the hiring process, he treats it as more than just a job.
“I kept trying to think about ways that I might be able to come back to campus and maybe share some of my experience,” said Dostal. “I didn’t really put a spreadsheet together or do a pros and cons list. I just kind of listened to my intuition.”
Personal affinity aside, Dostal has a clear vision and an impressive toolkit for what he aims to accomplish. Using his decades of consulting experience, he intends to maximize the potential of the Wabash giving community.
“A lot of what my role will involve is preparing Wabash for the start of its third century,” said Dostal. We have a very strong alumni network, but we also have some pockets of alumni that have probably been less involved than some others. A lot of what I’m looking to do is try to reach into those populations and help take advantage of what they can offer and help them feel a sense of belonging and involvement in everything that we’re doing here on campus today.”
The allusion to the strong alumni network is likely familiar to Wabash students. For many, this aspect of the College was a key selling point, echoed strongly by administration, faculty and students alike. While Dostal believes in the goodwill and passion of Wabash alumni, he seeks to improve the ways in which alumni are exposed to and connect with current students. In other words: the network is there, but we could be better at tapping into it.
“When I think about the strong alumni network, I think that there are thousands of alumni who are interested and eager to help as long as they know what students need, not just generally but what they specifically need.”
One of Dostal’s key objectives is to foster these relationships as much as possible. He explained how he had seen similar efforts play out in the past, with sometimes middling results. He took particular focus on undergraduate/alumni mixer events.
“I’ve seen a handful of events where we have alumni and students. The alumni are over here talking with each other about what it was like back in the day and the students are over here separately talking about what things are like today, and there’s not a lot of intermingling.”
As an alum, Dostal exudes passion for both sides of the Wabash experience, both undergraduate and postgraduate. However, while his job is very focused on the alumni side, he has not lost perspective on his undergraduate years. The English major, brother of Delta Tau Delta, and active student senator uses his experiences as a guiding star for how Wabash should work. His gratitude for the impact Wabash alumni have had on his life shapes much of how he approaches his current role.
“Wabash has been a part of my life since I was 14 years old. My high school English teacher was a Wabash grad. While I was an undergraduate, I had mentors who were on the Delt housing corporation. I had some interaction with some trustees on the Student Life committee because of my role in Student Senate. I was hired by an alumnus into my consulting job. And so I felt really fortunate to know a lot of alumni and to feel like I was helped in a meaningful way by pretty much all of them.”
Many may also have heard of Dostal’s unusual retirement project: attending a home game at each major professional sports stadium in America. Since his early retirement in 2021, Dostal has traveled around the country and watched either baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, or football in 115 out of the 154 stadiums in the major men’s leagues. This quest, originally spurred by his combined love of sports and architecture, may be impeded in the near future, however.
“I realize I’ve slowed my roll by coming back to do this job, but I’m going to see what I can get done this fall on weekends when we don’t have home football games.”
With 39 stadiums to go and lofty goals to accomplish on campus, Dostal is ready for the challenge.