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Nancy Waichler ’55

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Chatham alumna Nancy Waichler ’55 has centered her philanthropy around three passions: education, the environment and the social services groups that serve her community in Oak Park, IL. Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus embodies two of those passions.

“The opportunity to create real programs with meaning is there,” she says.

Waichler’s belief in the possibilities that exist at the Eden Hall Campus led her to commit $1 million toward the campus in June 2016. “Everything that you’re doing out there, you’re doing it without affecting the environment negatively,” Waichler says. “That is teaching itself. That is really saying this is what we believe in. This is what we are.”

For Waichler it was the latest show of generosity for a community she has supported for more than 60 years. She came to Chatham in 1951 from her hometown of Oak Park after a guidance counselor suggested she make a stop at what was then Pennsylvania College for Women. After touring the campus and being impressed with everyone she met, she made the decision to make PCW the next step of her academic journey. “I was struck by how beautiful it was,” Waichler says.

Chatham’s smaller class sizes empowered her to speak up and find her voice. “I was fairly shy,” Waichler says. “I found my voice at Chatham. It was absolutely the right decision for me.” After graduating with a psychology degree, she stayed interested in Chatham through the alumni association, eventually joining the Board of Trustees in 1997.

One of her first projects was fundraising for the building of the Athletic and Fitness Center. With that project and others she traveled to meet alumni across the country to learn about their reasons for giving and their feelings about Chatham. “I think they valued their time at Chatham very much,” she says. “I think they really appreciated the education they received.”

Her husband Richard, who passed away in 2015, had his own philanthropic causes but, Waichler says, he always championed her support of Chatham, citing the school’s size and need for the support and engagement of its alumni and donors. “Chatham is small. Chatham needs support,” she says.

One of the reasons she continues to support Chatham, she says, is the University leadership’s commitment to looking forward and planning for the future. “You can’t look at things the way you looked at them decades ago. You have to look at them the way the world has evolved and where it is now,” Waichler says.