Open letter to the students, faculty and alumni of our beloved Alma Mater, Wheeling Jesuit University:
Fifty-one years ago, we left our homes and our familiar neighborhood for the hills of West Virginia. This was before John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads” became the unofficial song for Wheeling College and the state.
Our anticipation was high; our excitement was real. As Dink Dance Dates, we have remained friends for all these years. The common thread that kept us in touch for so long was our love for our alma mater and the blessings that a Jesuit education bestowed upon us.
Our hearts are heavy with hurt for those students who had the same sense of anticipation and excitement who now must find another educational home. For the faculty, the uncertainty and financial drain that the sale of a home and re-location imposes is unimaginable. For our fellow alumni with whom we have communicated, the loss is simply incomprehensible and unbearable.
From a distance, it seems that those to whom the fiduciary responsibility for our college was entrusted have betrayed us all. Recent developments indicate that this was a hostile takeover without any meaningful effort to critically evaluate the problem early-on, to promptly seek the assistance of those who love the college and to implement a realistic plan to continue and sustain the Jesuit presence in Appalachia. Phrases like “kicking the can down the road” seem to describe what has been done. Now, due to this breach of fiduciary responsibility, we have come to the end of that country road.
The loss and embarrassment that has been inflicted upon us all will be with us for the rest of our days. The failure to take into account the many individuals hurt by this course of conduct cannot be overlooked. One does not re-brand a unique and centuries old Jesuit educational experience and then simply say that the valuable resource still remains.
Please know that we shall always maintain and cherish the friendships that Wheeling has given us. We are and shall remain so important and so special to one another. Those who have dismantled our college shall not destroy that.
Let us all go forth leaving far behind those who do not share our commitment to one another, our college, our education and our faith.
We are forever blessed having lived “that Wheeling Feeling.”
Luceat Lux Vestra.
William Francis Xavier Becker
Wheeling College, 1972
Linda LaCasse Wheeler
Wheeling College, 1972
West Hempstead, New York