Alumni Conversations: Students need our support now more than ever

WWU Give Day is May 28
Dave Mann

Many in our community may be surprised to know that I was totally disconnected from Western for 18 years after I graduated. It wasn’t until I was invited to learn about what was new with the university that I re-engaged. Put simply, I had to be reeducated on the important role that alumni play in helping to ensure an excellent educational experience for future generations.

Over the last 19 years, I’ve been invested in the university, and like many of you, committed to helping our students succeed. As we look toward Western’s fifth annual Give Day on May 28 through a very different world lens, it’s clear that students will need more support than ever this year. In the wake of changes wrought by COVID-19, many are struggling to remain at Western and to complete their education. Our students who were barely able to afford college before the pandemic are now among the most at risk. They need our support now.

Yet, with challenge comes opportunity, and perhaps more to the point, with education comes opportunity. I have high hopes for Give Day as a rallying cry for alumni involvement. We have an opportunity to unite the Western community as never before—and despite recent hardship and lingering uncertainty, I am inspired to make this Give Day our most successful to date. Each year has been more successful than the last. In 2019, we raised more than $730,000 in gifts and challenge funds from 2,126 donors, and with your generous participation, 2020 will surpass our expectations. 

For me, the primary purpose of Give Day is awareness. I believe people will support Western if they are aware of the work that’s being done and the need to support this work. This day also presents a unique opportunity to educate students on the value of philanthropy and the strength of engaged alumni. It is much easier to keep students and recent graduates involved than it is to try to bring them back later.

It is my hope that Give Day helps students recognize that others are helping them in their education. We can demonstrate the importance of transforming opportunity into success, and I hope this will inspire our students to do the same when they are able. 

Please enjoy this issue of Window magazine. I look forward to a successful Give Day 2020 with robust participation as we celebrate our alumni and our students. Please answer the call for participation on May 28!

Dave Mann
Dave Mann, secretary of the Western Foundation

is secretary of the Western Foundation and a retired chief financial officer of the Immunex Corporation.