From left: Dr. Annette VanAken; Russell Weigand '64 and his wife, Joyce Slone Weigand; and President Troy D. VanAken.
Elmhurst College alumnus and longtime Trustee Russell Weigand ’64 and his wife, Joyce Slone Weigand, will give $2.25 million to the College to continue and enhance the work of the Center for Professional Excellence.
Elmhurst College President Troy D. VanAken announced the major gift to the College, as well as commitments from two other trustees, during his inauguration ceremony on Saturday, October 22.
“The College has no truer or more steadfast friends than Russ and Joyce Weigand, and their gift exemplifies philanthropy of the highest order because it shows their lasting commitment to our students and their success,” President VanAken said.
President VanAken announced additional gifts and commitments on October 22, including a $150,000 pledge from alumnus and Trustee Edward Momkus ’74 and his wife, Betsy Goltermann; and a $100,000 gift from Trustee Hugh McLean and his wife, Mary Beth. Both donations will support student scholarships.
“I am deeply grateful to Ed, Betsy, Hugh and Mary Beth for the dedication and generosity they have shown to Elmhurst College,” VanAken said. “Their gifts will support our students’ goals and dreams for years to come.”
The $2.25 million leadership commitment from the Weigands will create an endowment for the Center for Professional Excellence. Established in 1997, the Center helps students identify and explore careers, and connects them with mentors and internship and employment opportunities. In honor of the Weigands’ gift, the College will name the program the Russell G. Weigand Center for Professional Excellence.
The gift “is a real tribute to the faculty and staff, and the value that we provide to students,” said Lawrence Carroll, executive director of the Center for Professional Excellence and professor of business administration. “Russ understands that we’re doing something here that serves all majors—that we’re engaged to help all of our students, and alumni too.”
Russell Weigand, who has been an Elmhurst College trustee since 1994, said the genesis for his gift began about 20 years ago, during a dinner conversation with then-President Bryant Cureton about what it means to be a professional.
They thought that professionals must not only be skilled in their work, but also be concerned about and engaged in serving the greater good. “That morphed into Bryant’s idea of a Center for Professional Excellence as a program that would help a student become a professional in all aspects of his or her life,” he said.
Weigand has been gratified to see how the CPE has evolved over the years, and appreciates how it brings together and integrates different aspects of the College, including not only career guidance resources but also the Honors Program and study-away and service-learning opportunities.
“It all made a lot of sense to me, all of the things that have become part of the Center,” he said. “The way it integrates liberal arts and professional preparation makes it one of the most distinctive parts of Elmhurst College.”
Weigand hopes his gift will encourage more and more students to engage with the Center for Professional Excellence, and that it also will encourage more alumni and friends to support the CPE and the College as a whole.
“People give because they believe the values of an institution coincide with their own,” Weigand said. “That’s my testimony for my gift. I owe Elmhurst a lot. I got my education here, I met my first wife here, and Elmhurst launched me in my career. What I hope is that others will think creatively about how they can fulfill their own personal commitments.”