Fords, Leadership Donors Honored Sunday Nightby Jim Amidon • April 24, 2006
The annual event honoring the College's leadership giving club, the 1832 Society, took on an entirely different twist Sunday, when 280 alumni, faculty and staff, and donors gathered to celebrate Wabash and its leaders, Anne and Andy Ford.
It marked the final time the Fords would attend the event in their current roles as President and First Lady, and the alumni in attendance honored them for the 13 prosperous years of growth at the College.
Kitty Haffner, wife of alumnus Herm Haffner ’77, was the first to take the stage after the elegant dinner at the Deer-Zink Pavillion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Haffner paid tribute to Anne Ford, calling her "a most gracious First Lady" and recalling all of the individual kindnesses Anne has bestowed on the community.
Kitty pointed to the community building events Anne has hosted, the themed opening picnic at Elston Homestead and the end-of-year cook-out, complete with pony rides for children. Haffner also noted for the gathering the million little tiny gestures that have made Anne so special to the Wabash community: gifts for new moms and babies; pick-me-up get well cards; and dressing up for Halloween and giving out specially made gift packages for Wabash children.
After a rousing standing ovation for Mrs. Ford, Stephen Bowen ’68 spoke on behalf of the Board of Trustees to honor Andy Ford.
Bowen spoke about the strength of the institution during Ford's tenure; the growth of the endowment; and the changed physical landscape of the institution. He noted that if Andy isn't the last one to leave Center Hall in the evening he is always the first to turn the lights on in the morning! Finally, Bowen reminded all in attendance of Ford's staunch commitment that Wabash would be a college for its students and focused keenly on the liberal arts.
Not to be outdone, former Trustee David Shane ’70 took a few good-natured jabs at President Ford, suggesting that at times he was no "Saint Andrew" on the golf course; rarely, if ever sings "Old Wabash" in tune; and has driven more than a few architects crazy over the last 13 years.
Shane then settled in to honor Andy Ford with a series of numbers that indicate Wabash's growth under his leadership:
2,225 — the number of students who have graduated hearing him ring Caleb Mills' bell;
5 — the number of categories in the National Survey of Student Engagement (all of them) for which Wabash set national benchmarks;
736 and 1,385 — the number of applications for admission Wabash received in 1996 (736) and the number it received in 2005;
81 — the number of faculty Wabash employed 10 years ago;
95 — the number of faculty at Wabash this year;
$100 million — the growth of Wabash's endowment under Ford;
350 — the number of institutions served by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion; and
5,500 — the number of student participants in the unprecedented Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education being conducted by the Center of Inquiry.
The program concluded when master of ceremonies and chair of the Board of Trustees Joseph Barnette, Jr. ’61 announced the creation of the Andrew T. and Anne M. Ford Chair in the Liberal Arts. The faculty chair will be held for five-year terms to faculty with a particular interest in their discipline within the liberal arts.
Ford ended the evening by thanking the alumni and friends in attendance for their ongoing support of Wabash. He shrugged off sense of personal glory and noted to the 1832 Society members that it has been the collective work of many thousand Wabash men, their families, faculty, staff, students, and friends who have helped the College grow and make his presidency so special.