Over the weekend, I also had the opportunity to make a brief stop at my alma mater, Western Illinois University.  The University Union there is anchored by a huge lounge, adorned by two walls of plaques on either side of it.

The West wall is named the Wall of Honor and houses plaques full of student leader recognition for various organizations.  Union Board leaders since 1966 are listed.  There are special leadership awards, Blue Key, Mortar Board, Order of Omega, Student Government and the like.  It is a perpetual tribute to those students who contributed their time and talent through the Office of Student Activities.

On the opposite wall is the Wall of Thanks which contains plaques listing the major donors to the university.  There are recognitions for the different donor levels and for special campaigns, and this wall is also full.

What Western realizes better than many schools is that the same names on the West wall are eventually listed on the East wall.  Student involvement engenders loyalty and dedication that often manifests itself into significant alumni contributions.  Those who receive later give.

Can you learn lessons from these two walls and think of how to foster connections in your organization.  Who benefited most from their work for you or was the recipient of your service?  Have you recognized them in lasting and appropriate ways?  And then can you facilitate a reciprocal relationship where they are asked to transcend generations with a meaningful gift?  Spend some time thinking about how you can create, then bridge, the two walls in your organization.

— beth triplett, ’81
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