With a $100,000 gift to HWS in late 2019, Peter Standish Jr. ’83 and Anne O’Connor ’86 Standish P’14, P’16 established a permanent endowment fund to provide assistance to academically qualified students who have demonstrated financial need. This year, to encourage others to take on leadership roles in meeting the Colleges’ fundraising goals, the Standishes have volunteered to serve as committee chairs of the Emerson Society.
The generosity of Emerson Society members highlights the power of engaged philanthropy. Membership — which starts with cumulative gifts of $2,000 made in any given fund year — offers donors an important avenue to create opportunities for students, “defray the rising cost of education” and “say thank you to HWS,” Anne says. “HWS is an outstanding and special small liberal arts school. We want people to know that, and what better way than to get involved.”
The Standishes’ own gifts are intended “to give back to the Colleges in a meaningful way,” she adds, because “we want to offer the opportunity to others to share in the HWS experiences that our family enjoyed.”
Anne and Peter met at the Colleges and two of their three children are graduates, so “HWS holds a very special place in our hearts,” says Anne. “We all received an outstanding education and made lasting relationships with friends, faculty and staff. We took part in many of the opportunities the Colleges have to offer such as study abroad programs, independent study, and athletic, social and community clubs. We have seen HWS and Geneva grow over the past 35-plus years and are proud of the bond that’s been forged between the Colleges and the community. It’s an important relationship beneficial to both school and city.”
As the Standishes take on their new roles, Anne says their goal is to “lead by example with our time and our financial support of the Colleges,” while ensuring that other donors “are appreciated and understand how their donations are being used to further strengthen the education and opportunities at HWS.”
In recruiting new Emerson Society members, they hope to boost giving among HWS alums and parents and ensure students today continue to enjoy the opportunities and experiences that have defined an HWS education for generations.
“We hope they forge friendships with other students and professors that carry them through their time at HWS and remain relevant after graduation,” Anne says. “We hope they appreciate the natural beauty of the campus and [become stewards] of that beauty, as well as … give back to the greater Geneva community. We hope the time spent at HWS allows them to grow … and graduate with the knowledge that the last four years provided a firm foundation for what they want to achieve in a career and in life.”