A Central College graduate and his family have helped relaunch the college and its students across the globe with a gift that is making off-campus experiences possible again.
“Study abroad and off-campus experiences have been changing over time, even before the pandemic,” says Michelle Wilkie, director of development. “When the pandemic hit, it really allowed us to pause as an institution and think about a model or program that’s going to work best for longevity while also meeting the demands and the changes of our students.”
Central is working to raise $1.5 million to support off-campus study efforts. David Wesselink ’64 and his wife, Linda, have made an initial leadership gift of $500,000 to support the new off-campus experience model (described throughout this issue) — supporting both operational and programmatic needs.
“Central continues to work to create an environment where students are able to become engaged global citizens. This new model and generous support are allowing us to do just that,” Wilkie says.
The Wesselinks’ gift comes with the goal of giving students the opportunity to experience education abroad — and strengthens Central’s ongoing commitment to international education access.
“We are pleased that our donation can help make life-changing, off-campus experiences available to Central students again after COVID-19 forced a hiatus. Central has long been a leader in providing such experiences, and we hope that others will join us in supporting this important and worthwhile endeavor,” says David Wesselink, a Storm Lake, Iowa, native who now splits his time between Northbrook, Illinois, and Holland, Michigan.
After graduating from Central with a major in economics, Wesselink served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey for two years. He spent an additional year in the country teaching at Karabük Koleji. He has since enjoyed extensive world travels for business, and he and Linda have enjoyed personal international travel as well.
“My experience as a young adult in Turkey has impacted me for my entire life,” Wesselink says. “I am so pleased the donation from Linda and me will support Central’s mission and allow others to immerse themselves in world experiences.”
Before retiring in 2005, Wesselink was the chair and CEO of Metris Companies, a consumer financial services company. He served on Central’s board of directors from 1991-2013 and is chair emeritus.
“International education is such a powerful transformational experience. We’ve always believed things that happen outside of the classroom are a huge part of how Central students learn and grow,” says Sunny Gonzales Eighmy ’99, vice president for advancement. “The world has never been more connected. Off-campus experiences have been a core part of the Central experience for decades. This wonderful gift from Dave and Linda supports Central’s longtime efforts to open doors to new experiences and perspectives. We are so grateful for their generosity and for the fact that doors and borders are opening again worldwide.
“I think this is a really exciting time in our history,” Eighmy adds. “And there’s so much momentum in this program. There’s a real opportunity to align donor support behind our strategic priorities. Off-campus experiences are something that we feel are especially important as an institution, and we can’t do it without support.”
Central continues to accept gifts of all sizes to help support off-campus experiences. To make a donation, contact Michelle Wilkie, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sunny Gonzales Eighmy ’99, vice president for advancement, at email@example.com.