Hello John Whittenberger Society Members –
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the John Whittenberger Society’s fall meeting—one of two in-person meetings annually. This year I was struck by how much activity the IMU was absolutely brimming with, thanks in large part to some of the recent (and ongoing shifts) to the Union to increase student use space. I wanted to share a few highlights, themes, and insights from the weekend!
From the IMU
We learned that since the 1960s student enrollment was increased by about 55% and now includes approximately 47,000 students. In addition to an increased student population students have more options than ever for involvement—over 750 student organizations—as well as options for arts, food, and engagement in town. To keep up with the needs of current students, faculty, staff—and even Alums like us—the IMU has:
- Reorganized the bookstore to uncover beautiful architectural features including the Lincoln Fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and to open the exterior doorways for entrance on the south side of the bookstore. Importantly, they’ve also added seating and student workspace within the heart of those features—increasing student use space.
- Increased seating near the stage and recently renovated dining area on the main floor—both the dining area and the stage were in near constant use all weekend.
- Increased the use of the Centennial Patio by adding additional seating for gathering and live musical programming weekly, along with refreshments from the new Vault Pub.
- We saw a sneak peak of the new “club hub”. While the IMU is early in the renovation process we could already see the vision for a vibrant student leadership center coming to life.
The most important takeaways—the building was alive with activity for our whole visit and the students and staff remain committed to ensuring our beloved IMU is relevant while honoring its rich history.
From Union Board
Through the weekend we interacted with Union Board directors both formally and informally. Of course, as everything changes—some things stay the same. Students shared their commitment (and sometimes struggle) in practicing skills like delegation and time management. And so often when a student would share their experience, an alumni would give a knowing nod or smile—we’ve been there too.
At the same time, they are doing many creative and inspiring programs. In October alone, Union Board is hosting seven films, a homecoming 5K, a craft night which benefits the local animal shelter, a conversation with former professional wrestler AJ Mendez, a lecture featuring Nicole Hannah Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of “The 1619 Project.”…and they continue to add programs that contribute to the Union’s vibrant use.
Finally, your own JWS advisory board reflected on not just what got us involved but what made us “double down”—What made us keep going to Union Board meetings, rise to the level of Director, and for some of us continue for more than one term. While each story was unique, the short answer was—someone asked us to DO something.
In that spirit I’m asking you—don’t be a stranger. If you make a visit to campus stop into the IMU (or better yet stay at the hotel), go see the Executive Director Hank, listen to some music on the Centennial Patio, and of course—introduce yourself to a current director or two!
Most importantly, let me know if you are interested in volunteering, or if we can answer questions. That’s what your Advisory Board is here for!
Anne M. Kostyo
President, John Whittenberger Society
2008 Union Board Director of Comedy
John Whittenberger Society Advisory Board:
- Anne Kostyo (UB 2008), President
- Lydia Shanklin Roll (UB 2003), Vice President of Alumni Relations
- Julie Singer (UB 2009), Vice President of Development
- Cathy Deal (UB 1969-70, Alumni Rep. 2014-17)
- Martín Gimenez (UB 2001)
Scott Gudeman (UB 1982-83, 1983-84)
- Adele Kaplan (UB 1985-86, 1986-87)
- Beth Loeb Davies (UB 1981-82, 1982-83)
- Kerry Maller (UB 1996, 1997)
- David Miller (UB 1970-71)
Sharon Tubbs (UB 1993, 1994)