James Kenny holds a position on Wheaton’s board that is crucial to its daily functioning. However, most students know very little about his work. Kenny’s official title is Director of Major and Planned Giving; all external funds brought to Wheaton come from his dedicated work.
Wheaton, as a private institution, doesn’t have state funding. For this reason, we need staff members like Kenny to bring in funds for every activity and faculty member at Wheaton – from the baseball team to the English department.
The most important part of this job is reaching out and connecting to people with personal links to Wheaton. This can mean alumni, philanthropists or families of current students. Oftentimes, those who’ve had experiences with Wheaton are inclined to give back to the school.
Funding is often brought to the school for specific projects, such as a scholarship or a renovation. However, these specific projects are more than just dollar signs to donors.
“We need to listen to that individual donor and hear from them what it is that they’re passionate [about], what they’re interested in supporting,” Kenny said. “We talk to them about how they could fund that area of interest and have a positive impact on Wheaton at the same time.”
The most important thing that Kenny wants the Wheaton community to understand about his job is that he works for the wellbeing of everyone involved in our school. There are multitudes of people across the country invested in making your days at Wheaton better, in thanks for the education that they received here.
Kenny said, “What I hope all these students will understand is the names [of buildings on campus] are people who have made significant decisions to invest in you all.” So, the next time you walk past Chase Dining Hall or Weber Theater, take a moment to recognize that there is a person behind every name you see engraved in stone.