Why I Give to Wofford

Reverend Michael R. Sullivan ’89
 Rector, St. John’s Church, Lynchburg, VA.

Twenty-two years ago I arrived at Wightman Hall a naïve Southern boy in the tradition of Ferrol Sam’s Porter Osborn, junior.  With no real concept of what was to unfold, I thought about the parties, how I would study, fall in and out of love, and secure a job on the other end of the finish line.  I did not realize the journey upon which I was embarking. Wofford had set me out for four years of self-discovery reading and questioning everything I could.  Able professors from a multitude of pathways joined me with names like Hudgens, Leonard, Bullard, Mount, and Antonson.  And still naïve, I hardly noticed that we had joined the journey of Socrates and Plato with poets, scientists, historians, philosophers, and theologians all around.  As Eliot, Auden, and Joyce, Newton, Watson and Crick, Augustine, Aquinas and Merton walked along our side, something began to happen.  A real education came my way.  Looking back, I knew that Wofford was preparing me for something more than a job.  Now I know: Wofford was preparing me for life. 

I am amazed again and again at that journey.  Without the education of our alma mater, I do not think I could find my pathway in life.  You see, Wofford never gave up on me.  When I didn’t know what I was really up to, when I didn’t have a clue for how to live and have my being in this life, Wofford saw me through.  Instilling the questions of life within me, Wofford gave me the tools I need every day to walk this sacred planet.  Because Wofford entrusted this education to me, I now celebrate my life and see life fully.  For the wisdom of people like Carlisle, Sydnor, and Lesesne knew that the love of learning is the helmsman of life and that all Wofford’s children could make a difference in this beautiful and wonderful world if just given the chance.

I am now 40 years old.  I have finished graduate school.  I have a good job.   I have bought the largest house I could ever need.  And it is time for me to accept my responsibility to educate further generations at Wofford.  It’s up to me to give financially because if I don’t, another naïve child on the way to discovery will not find the pathway Wofford gave me when I arrived between the posts.  I cannot abandon my education.  I cannot abandon my alma mater.  For that which gave me life, which entrusted me with the questions and set me upon a good pathway, is needed in our world now more than ever.  So giving to Wofford is not just a piece of philanthropy.  No, for me, it’s a way of life.  May she shine with honor and may all her graduates live up to the great tradition entrusted to us.


 Michael Sullivan  Photo credit: David Duncan Photography