Jim AmidonWhile it is not likely to be erased from our memories any time soon, the 117th Monon Bell Classic is behind us and the Wabash College football team’s 47-0 victory over arch rival DePauw put a nice stamp on the fall season at the College.

And what a remarkable fall it was.

Folks who care deeply about Wabash have plenty to be thankful for as the campus falls quiet for Thanksgiving break. Here are but a handful of reasons why we give thanks this week.

In late August, President Pat White rang in 253 new students to Wabash. The freshmen come from across the country and around the world, and have enriched every aspect of our community.

We are thankful that in this difficult economy, Dean of Admissions Steve Klein and his dedicated staff — and all who help us recruit students — brought in such a large and wonderful class.

About that same time, Wabash was featured in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 College Guide, the Princeton Review’s Best 373 Colleges book, and Forbes magazine’s Best Colleges guide.

In early September, the College’s glorious new football field was dedicated as Sewell Field at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium. While many Wabash purists first balked at the idea of a synthetic playing surface, the Field Turf Pro gridiron matches the excellence of Wabash’s entire athletics program.

We’re thankful for the many fond and spirited memories we have of games played in that stadium and the men who compete as Little Giants, and for the benefactors who make that competition possible.

By month’s end, it was time for Homecoming. It’s hard to put an accurate number on it, but I suspect that about 6,000 people returned to alma mater to reminisce, remember, and celebrate Wabash’s thrilling 31-14 win over the University of Chicago.

At the Homecoming Alumni Chapel, two special friends were among those honored by the National Association of Wabash Men. The College’s alumni director and Crawfordsville native, Tom Runge, received the Alumni Award of Merit, and long-time swimming and diving coach, Gail Pebworth, was named an honorary alumna in the Class of 1991.

We’re thankful to both for their service to and love of Wabash College.

In late October, the Wabash community gathered again to celebrate the College’s tradition of philanthropy. At an exciting event on the last Friday of the month, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends gathered to announce the five-year, $60 million Challenge of Excellence capital campaign.

We are thankful to those people — especially the College’s Trustees — who already have given or pledged nearly $36 million toward that goal.

A week later, a record number of high school seniors and their family members descended on Wabash for the Top Ten Scholarship Visit Day. Well over 180 young men who rank in the top ten percent of their high school graduating classes made their way to campus to learn more about Wabash and to meet with alumni, faculty, and students.

We are thankful that Wabash’s reputation is strong, that high school students aspire to become Wabash men, and that our accomplished alumni are living proof of the value of a liberal arts education.

On the eve of the Monon Bell Classic, scores of alumni and family members came back to Wabash for the Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony. A remarkable class of nine men representing eight different varsity sports were inducted (with another soon to follow).

We’re thankful for Wabash’s rich tradition of intercollegiate athletics and that the College honors its sports heroes.

Throughout the fall, students and visiting artists entertained us with their musical and theatrical performances on stage.

We are thankful for the diversity of talents in this small community, and for the College’s commitment to the education of the whole person.

And that brings us to Saturday, November 13.

No other colleges in the country can boast of a rivalry as old, as fierce, and as storied as the Monon Bell rivalry between Wabash and DePauw. We may take it for granted that a single, small college football game means so much to so many people, near and far. In reality, there really isn’t anything like it in all of college sports.

We are thankful to have such a worthy, respected rival in DePauw and we are thankful for the traditions we share. (And, of course, we’re thankful that the bell has been ringing pretty much non-stop for the last two weeks.)

In a season of Thanksgiving, we at Wabash are blessed. We are blessed with a caring, dedicated faculty and staff, eager students, loyal alumni, and a community that embraces this liberal arts college for men.

For all of these reasons and more, we are thankful.