For the fiscal year 2017–18, the Wilmette Institute Board has set a fund-raising goal of $100,000.00
The current goal, which is $45,000 higher than last year’s, is a response to the Institute’s agreement with the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, which allows students at the seminary to take six courses on the Bahá’í Faith for graduate credit. Now the Wilmette Institute is seeking to expand to other institutions of higher education with similar agreements. But to do so, it needs to professionalize its operation further. That means a number of things:
- Paying faculty an honorarium close to the standard rate for adjunct faculty.
- Establishing departments and appointing chairs to stimulate, develop, and improve the Institute’s course offerings.
- Expanding the Institute’s staffing so that it can provide better support to the faculty and their courses, thus enhancing the quality of the courses.
In the last several months, the Wilmette Institute has begun to increase honoraria for faculty and has established departments (see the article in this issue about the departments). It has also upgraded its course-registration and course-delivery software. Some staff have taken a course in how to accommodate special-needs students.
The Wilmette Institute is also planning to expand in other ways:
- It is increasing its popular Web Talks to twice a month to mark the bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s 200th birthday
- It is considering new forms of web video programs, including Discourse Webinars in which a Bahá’í knowledgeable about the research on a given topic and how it relates to the Bahá’í teachings will host a discussion on the topic with a prominent non-Bahá’í scholar.
- It plans to start Webinars to serve young adults.
- It is considering ways in which it can foster Bahá’í scholarship by faculty and learners alike.
The Wilmette Institute’s goal for the fiscal year 2016–17 was $55,000, which it exceeded with generous contributions amounting to $70,000. This year, with a goal of $100,000, and with many new goals for expanding its services and professionalizing its operations, there are literally thousands of reasons for supporting the Wilmette Institute.
How soon can we exceed this year’s fund-raising goal?