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Francis (Spike) Gummere
Special Assistant to the President and Campaign Advisor
1. Describe your relationship to the College?
With the experience of forty-nine years at the College, I perhaps have a unique perspective to share with both my colleagues and alumni and friends. I came to Lake Forest having worked in New England for Clarkson University and Trinity College for four and three years respectively. To be entirely honest, we thought we would head west for five or six years and go running back to New England. Little did we realize that the years would pass and opportunities would present themselves but each time one did, we found it increasingly difficult to consider departing. Why?
From the day I first stepped on campus, I was comfortable and impressed. Coeducation seemed “right.” In my meetings with students, I was struck by their enthusiasm, positive attitudes, and respect for their teachers. They spoke with reverence not just of the expertise of the faculty, but also of their experiences with individual faculty and cited examples from both in and out of the classroom. Moreover it was genuine and clearly they felt supported and mentored. These were very different vibes from what I had previously experienced. Over time I suppose everything seems to change and that is certainly true at Lake Forest College. We have grown in so many ways and the stature of the College has grown commensurately. But I find it wonderfully reassuring that in my conversations with students today their enthusiasm and respect for their teachers and coaches is no different today than it was in 1968.
2. What excites you about your work at Lake Forest College?
It is no secret that I am very proud of Lake Forest College and there are many reasons behind that pride. We have maintained our commitment to learning in a liberal arts environment but been willing to adjust to new and evolving needs and demands. While the curriculum has grown and changed, we remain committed to student faculty dialog and to the liberal arts. In short we continue to prepare students for the ever-changing world that awaits them and we do so by stressing the need to be thoughtful, communicative and open minded.
3. What is your role as part of the development and alumni relations team?
My role has evolved over the years. It was initially hard to leave “day to day” duties and responsibilities in admissions. I confess that I still enjoy immensely talking with teenagers and I relish the time I spend helping out in admissions. But as time has passed, my endeavors have become more focused on reconnecting with people I first met when they were applying for admission. The rewards have been many and a source of pride. To have first met one of you as a senior in high school, subsequently reading your application, watching you grow as an undergraduate, attending your graduation and later having contact with you as an adult, it doesn’t get any better and is incredibly gratifying.
I’m also proud of the fact that all of you benefited from the support and generosity of alumni and friends when you were a student. Consequently I have no hesitation in asking each of you to “give back”. It truly makes a difference and I’m very grateful when you do so.