Clifford Kocian ‘ 11 – Some call it the “dirty underbelly of Wabash College.” It is the buildings on campus that are seen but never gone into. It is the people that students are not likely to know, and less likely to care about (“What exactly do they do over there all day?”).
As I have come to learn over the past two months, this underbelly is Wabash College. Now I am not comparing Wabash to a dirty underbelly, although I do not doubt that the synonym has been used before (most likely by a Danny) but I digress. Without ‘it’, without these buildings and these people, the uniquely Wabash experience that we have as students- and that subsequently transform us into some of the most successful people would be drastically different.
Officially, the underbelly is comprised of advancement, annual giving, and alumni, parent, and public relations. How is it that these areas complete the Wabash experience? Quite simply, they combine to make our four years here as smooth as possible. This includes everything from constantly updating our website (and make no mistake about it, we have one of the best and most easily navigated college websites out there), to ensuring that almost every student on campus gets some form of financial aid or scholarship.
Instead of giving you a boring report of everything I’ve done thus far, I thought it would be nice to impart some Wabash wisdom in the form of ‘Take-home points about the dirty underbelly’:
1. We have outstanding alumni. I know this gets shoved down our throats all of the time, but it’s something I think can’t be overstated enough. For such a small school, the amount of alumni involvement and the extent to which alumni will go out of their way to help never ceases to amaze me. One of the highlights of the summer for me has been working the Big Bash- our reunion weekend. It’s something that needs to be experienced in order to give it justice, but to give a taste I will say that you need to see for yourself just how excited a 50th year reunion class (yes, that puts them in their 70’s) can get to sing Old Wabash. I’ll give you a hint, it involves a fire truck.
2. Wabash is tradition. During my time here, I have run across countless variations of Wally (he wasn’t always superhuman looking), stories of old Bell games, pictures of old Chapel Sings, and Sphinx Club members from 40 years ago. My office is smushed between the offices of alums (’85 and ’97), which only makes me bug them more for stories about the ‘good old times.’ What I have realized though is that the good old times aren’t much different from today’s times. Wabash is tradition, and part of the reason that our alumni are outstanding is because of the shared experience that we all have gone or are going through.
3. Carry the torch. Everyone who steps foot on the campus becomes part of the Wabash community, and part of the tradition. For, tradition begins anew every day. Make sure that you never step foot off the campus without a story to tell. Although at some point graduation comes, our inner-Wabash never parts. Remember your time here, and then realize that it now falls upon your shoulders to ensure the success of current students- to keep the essence, the life spark, of Wabash alive.
In photo: Cliff looks over the shoulder of Director of Annual Giving Joe Klen, during a busy morning in the office.