First Person: Susan Wolff

“That was so meaningful to me as a student, that someone saw my potential and sought me out.”
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LW Warfel

December 11, 2023 Giving

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Susan Wolff ’94
She was a senior and a resident assistant, sitting at the front desk in ONU’s McClain Hall during evening hours. “John Mongerson, the director of admissions, walked in and came to the desk,” Susan Wolff recalls. “He began talking with me about staying at ONU and becoming an admissions counselor. That was so meaningful to me as a student, that someone saw my potential and sought me out.”

During her years as an ONU student, Susan had many opportunities to grow as a leader. She was a member of Student Council, WRA director, chaired several campus events and made many friends along the way. “At ONU, I started developing into who I am now,” she says. “I found my interests and began a career journey much different than what I had originally planned.”

John did become Susan’s supervisor and mentor in the Office of Admissions for her first job after she graduated from ONU. Her 5 years as an admissions counselor turned into a lifetime of professional service to the University. She went on to serve as director of alumni relations and annual fund for 6 years; executive assistant to the president for 2 years; dean of undergraduate enrollment for 11 years; and executive director of university relations for 4 years.

“As dean, I led our Admissions team in recruiting and interacting with more than 2,000 families each year,” Susan says. “One of my favorite ONU memories is the new student orientation in June. At the Thursday night worship service, I looked out at the beaming faces of students and their parents. I was excited to see how the work of our team culminated in that space. Our team had helped them get to ONU. And each time, I thought, Here’s the next group of ONU graduates.”

Today, Susan chairs “The Campaign for Olivet,” a 5-year capital campaign to benefit students. She is also a part-time professor in the Department of Communication and the faculty advisor for the student-run Inspired Strategies Agency that serves the local community.

“I’m a utility player with over 28 years of institutional knowledge,” she says. “I love being involved across campus.”

For Susan, everything ONU does intersects in the life of each student. “In the classroom, I hear students’ stories about how ONU professors have taken time to talk with them, pray with them, model for them what Education with a Christian Purpose really means,” she says. “I help them navigate the next steps in their lives and careers. I enjoy welcoming them in my home and showing them I truly care about them.”

In her role with the Development team, Susan supports the officers as they make contacts with alumni and friends of the University. She helps makes sure they catch the spirit of ONU’s dreams and plans, provides supporting materials and information they need, and prepares them to be successful in their work. She also serves as a liaison between the team and University President Gregg Chenoweth. One of her greatest desires for the future of ONU is to engage more younger alumni in philanthropy and giving back to the University.

Susan Wolff walking and talking to students on campus

Olivet is a family tradition for Susan. Her grandfather was a Nazarene minister. Her dad attended Olivet. Her brother, sister and two aunts also attended. When it was time for her to go to college, she didn’t even visit any other school because she had always planned to enroll at ONU. She and her husband, George, and their son, Britten, and his wife, Emma, all graduated from ONU. Their son, Emmet, is currently a student.

“George and I have raised two incredible young men,” Susan says. “Seeing Olivet playing out in their lives is so special for me. We are thrilled that this experience is part of their journeys.”

Susan’s love for students and ONU fuels everything she does each day. She sees herself as a dot connector, building relationships among students, administration, and faculty and with the greater Kankakee area. In her opinion, staying true to its mission and hiring the right people to carry out its mission are what keep ONU on the map as a premier Christian university.

“I’m proud of who we are at ONU and what we represent,” Susan says. “That is why I continue to invest my time, talents and resources here. ONU is a transformational experience for me. From when I was a student 30 years ago to the work I do now. My personal investment in ONU is not just about me and what I do. It’s about what I get back in return from doing what God wants me to do.”

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LW Warfel

Laura Wasson Warfel is a story gatherer, writer, editor, and follower of Jesus Christ. A good listener, she distills details into meaningful communications. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, she launched More Than A Widow, a ministry to help widows live beyond the label and find their more.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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