Though both Harry '65 and Christine Phillips have roots in eastern Pennsylvania, Christine had moved to Colorado as a child, and they didn't meet until a holiday where they learned they'd both enrolled at Indiana colleges; Wabash for Harry and DePauw (later an IU transfer) for Christine. For both, Wabash College is a source of astonishment, stemming back to Harry's freshman year in 1961. To the young scholar fresh from hard-coal country in Pennsylvania, Wabash's faculty especially stood out as "continuously caring, respectful, and wise," says Harry. Christine remembers, "For example, less than one week after John F. Kennedy was killed, Professor Paul Mielke and his wife Mary Lou invited us to their family Thanksgiving dinner, giving the students humane stability-it was so traumatic. You bonded for life with the people you saw that week."
The couple's closeness with the Wabash faculty existed far beyond Harry's classroom experiences. Harry says, "When we decided to elope to the justice of the peace in Crawfordsville in March of my senior year and Chris' junior year at IU, Paul and Mary Lou Mielke helped give us a small reception. After the elopement, political science professor Karl O'Lessker lent us his wife's car for a 'honeymoon' drive. It was a cold night and the car heater didn't work, but who cared?"
Christine's astonishment with Wabash took a few more years to develop. An attorney who spent years working with the EPA, Christine is very proud of the successes of career women from her generation. "Women had to claw our way up," she says, "and I couldn't imagine my name being connected with an all-men's school!" She praises Harry for his feminism, saying, "he was the one who actually introduced me to Simone de Beauvoir's writing about feminism." Regardless, she remained hesitant about Wabash. But as the years passed and she built connections of her own with Wabash and its staff, she grew to admire the way the College provides its male students with women role-models, especially with the addition of women faculty on campus in the 1970s.
The Phillipses, through their work with Eric Statler, Sr. Major Gifts Officer for Wabash, have since established two scholarships for Wabash students by creating reciprocating bequests in each of their wills. Then they created two endowed fund agreements - very simple three-page documents which instructs the College on how the new scholarships will eventually be applied when their estates back distributions to Wabash. One scholarship will benefit students with an academic interest in political science, as both Harry and Christine have degrees in that field and went on to have related careers, and the second is a passion project of Christine's. It provides financial support for Wabash students with demonstrated financial need, preferably from the Southwest region of the United States, which she loves because of its diversity. "It's about promoting people from different areas, what they bring back to their homes from Wabash and what they take to the school. Meeting people reflecting different textures of land and culture helps us understand each other," she says.
Making these planned gifts to Wabash made the most sense to Harry and Christine, who both see supporting Wabash financially as being big fish in a small pond: "By donating to Wabash, we have a bigger impact than donating to much larger non-profits," says Christine. Harry says, "Wabash needs all the money it can get to continue to be successful in recruiting young men to matriculate at the College." Bequests, though revocable until death, are also a meaningful way to plan for how a lifetime of accumulated assets will be put to great use after someone is gone.
The Phillipses hope their scholarships allow future Wabash men to have the wonderful faculty experiences that Harry had, especially if the students and Wabash are able to positively influence each other and maximize the blessings of Wabash.