Presidential Perspectives – Summer 2018

Dear W&J Alumni and Friends,

While chatting with a new freshman at a recent chips-and-salsa gathering on my front porch, I asked, “How many colleges did you consider before deciding on W&J?”

“I applied to 30 and was accepted at 24,” she said. “I visited 12 colleges and universities, but W&J was the place I felt most at home.”

The “College Search” has become a rite of passage for many families, so it didn’t surprise me to hear of her extensive travels. Applying to numerous institutions has become increasingly common as competition for students has intensified over the last decade because the number of American 18-year-olds has steadily declined as a result of lower past birth rates.

It was also no surprise that a visit to our campus helped make up her mind. We know from experience that getting to know our terrific faculty, staff and students is the deciding factor for many prospective students. Yet it is often the encouragement of a W&J alumnus that prompts a visit in the first place. A word from an enthusiastic graduate elevates our college among the many options considered by the excellent students we attract.

I am pleased that some of our alumni even support our efforts by greeting and speaking with visiting families. In the article that begins on page 13, you will read about four of our young graduates who recently joined me in a panel presentation for dozens of high school seniors and juniors. They shared how their W&J education prepared them for early success in their careers and offered helpful advice on how to navigate college life.

Kelly and I have enjoyed the privilege of getting to know countless W&J alumni over the last year. We’ve taken part in more than 20 events in cities from coast to coast – gatherings where members of graduating classes spanning five or more decades are often present. We are impressed by our graduates’ abiding loyalty to their alma mater and are inspired by their stories of how their W&J experience prepared them for successful lives and careers.

Meeting so many of our graduates allows me to say confidently to prospective students and their families that a degree from Washington & Jefferson College is a lifetime membership in a family of 14,000 living alumni who are eager to help our students find internships and jobs, and who continue to support each other throughout life’s journey.

Today we are engaged in a collaborative strategic planning process to envision the W&J of tomorrow. Thanks to the steadfast support generations of alumni, we look to the future with confidence that Washington & Jefferson College will always be known for an education of the highest quality and relevance in our fast-changing world.

With my gratitude,

John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor