Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Providing scholarship support for students

Georgene Botyos Herschbach ’61 and Dudley Herschbach, photo by Luis Peralta

“Our education has transformed our lives in countless ways,” says Georgene Botyos Herschbach ’61. She and her husband, Dudley, both earned Ph.D.s in chemistry from Harvard and both enjoyed long careers at the university—Georgene in administration and Dudley as a Nobel Prize–winning professor of chemistry.

“Without financial aid and the opportunity to earn money through student jobs, we could not have gone to college,” says Georgene.

As a “thank you” for the scholarship support they received as undergraduates and on the occasion of their 50th reunions last year, the Herschbachs set up scholarships at Wheaton and at Dudley’s alma mater, Stanford University.

The Drs. Georgene Botyos Herschbach ’61 and Dudley Herschbach Hon Sc.D. ’95 Endowed Scholarship helps several Wheaton students pursue their education each year.

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Nothing but net

The most memorable wins happen in overtime. Consider March Matchness, the Wheaton Fund’s initiative to increase annual giving participation among alumnae/i of the last two decades.

Inspired by the annual NCAA basketball tournament, the Wheaton Fund pitted graduates in odd-numbered class years against their peers in even-numbered classes, to see who could generate more gifts while working to reach a collective total of 1,000 donors in a month. If they reached that goal, Wheaton would receive a $200,000 challenge gift—$200 for every donor who gave.

At the March 31 “buzzer,” the score was close, but the total stood shy of the goal, at 800 donors. A one-week overtime period ensued, and the Wheaton Fund threw in an extra carrot, promising a drawing for a new iPad 3, if the goal was reached.

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The art of giving

Hood Court has a new resident: “Key Angel” by the renowned sculptor Guy Dill.

The seven-foot metal sculpture, a form composed of graceful looping lines, was donated to the college by Trustee Emeritus Edgar Eisner and his wife, Lucky Dallo Eisner ’53, to ensure that the artwork continues to be an object of admiration and a source of inspiration.

“Lucky and I are delighted that ‘Key Angel’ has found a new home at Wheaton,” Eisner said. “We thought of giving it to the college so that students can enjoy it, and we decided to do that rather than sell it at auction. It’s a more meaninful place for the sculpture to be.”

The Eisners have long been supporters of Wheaton, both in service to the college and as philanthropists and contributors to the Permanent Collection. In the past decade, the Eisners contributed 17 stained-glass panels, the most recent of which arrived late in 2011. They also funded the construction of long-term cases in the lobby of Watson Fine Arts to allow regular display of the works of art, many of which are late medieval and early modern Swiss panels.

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Professor Michael Berg’s interest in obesity research

I have always been very interested in understanding stereotyping and prejudice and their effect on our lives.

As an undergraduate, I worked in a psychological research lab where we examined the everyday decision-making processes people used to sort others into various categories (by gender, race, age, attractiveness, etc.). I even wrote my honors thesis on how to reduce stereotyping in hiring decisions and went to graduate school in social psychology to study stereotyping and prejudice.

During graduate school, I became fascinated with the then emerging area of health psychology that at the time was largely just a specific form of applied social psychology. I got further training in health psychology and began studying HIV and the interaction of the social environment and personal attitudes on medical adherence. Then, about two years ago, my wife (who is a clinical health psychologist) started working on a study that connected body dissatisfaction and obesity prejudice. Through our discussions of her research, my interest in the stereotyping was renewed and I realized that I was particularly interested in how the obesity epidemic was making weight-based prejudice worse, not better. From there I developed my first study linking weight-based prejudice to obesity-focused public policy.

It's also worth noting that I was very sick as an undergrad with a rare disorder called Cushing’s Disease. The illness caused me to gain more than 60 pounds, though in appearance I looked closer to 100 or more pounds heavier. After I was cured, I naturally went back to my usual average weight. Given the short time duration and the dramatic change in appearance, I couldn’t help but notice how differently I was treated as a smaller and then heavier individual. Even little comments like, “hey, big guy,” though surely not intended to do harm, felt very hurtful. I hope my experiences from that time have helped me to be a better and more insightful researcher on the topic.