Western Carolina University’s Brinson Honors College recently launched a new initiative designed to recognize current student leaders and build stronger connections with young alumni of the college through a project made possible by donors to the Fund for WCU.
Christened ‘Students and Alumni Intersections and Legacies” (or SAIL), the $2,000 project was supported by funding from the WCU Division of Advancement’s 1889 Impact Grants Program. The funds enabled Brinson Honors College faculty and staff to bring five recent graduates back to campus for a weekend that included a leadership pinning ceremony and an alumni panel discussion.
“During the panel, alumni spoke fondly about the impact that Honors touchstones had on their undergraduate experience, especially undergraduate research, opportunities for leadership and their community experiences,” said Jill Granger, Brinson Honors College dean. “Each of their responses was heartfelt, from how Brinson Honors College set them up for success through the commitments and connections they made to the ways they still draw upon what they learned in their time at WCU and in the college.”
Using the 1889 Impact Grant funding, Brinson Honors College staff expanded a student leadership recognition event launched in 2021 by inviting young recent graduates back to campus to share their experiences and to reconnect with the college, Granger said.
“The grant allowed us to increase the involvement of our young alumni and build greater engagement with the college and the university,” she said. “We look forward to continuing this burgeoning tradition and hope for its success in the years ahead.”
Launched in 2021, the 1889 Impact Grants program is designed to provide a consistent source of funding for colleges and other units at WCU in support of initiatives that enhance the engagement of alumni and community stakeholders with the philanthropic activities of the university.
Funding for the program comes from annual contributions to the Fund for WCU, including leadership gifts from members of the 1889 Club, which recognizes donors for gifts made on an annual basis to the Fund for WCU. The club, among four giving societies established by the Division of Advancement to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on the institution, is named in honor of the year of WCU’s founding.
Eleven projects were selected to receive a total of $40,000 in grant funding during the program’s inaugural year.