My Giving Story: Sue Wasiolek
Partnering with students to make a difference
Dean Sue Wasiolek ’76, M.H.A. ’78, LL.M. ’93, is a fixture on Duke’s campus. A familiar face to generations of Duke alumni, she is known for her easy-going nature, dedication to the Duke student body, and an incredible recollection of Duke’s history.
Dean Sue, as she is affectionately called, is the assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Her 37-year career at Duke, excluding a brief nine-month stint to practice law, includes serving in the Division of Student Affairs, as a freshmen and sophomore academic advisor, and as a professor in education, law, and cultural anthropology. A recent addition to her Duke resume is: freshman dorm resident. Dean Sue makes her home as the faculty-in-residence in Gilbert-Addoms residence hall—and she loves it!
Dean Sue graduated with a B.A. in science education, followed by an M.H.A. and LL.M.—all at Duke. She also completed a J.D. degree from North Carolina Central University and an Ed.D. from University of Pennsylvania.
“So much of what I have experienced in life has been related to Duke, either directly or indirectly,” said Dean Sue. “I have had the good fortune on a daily basis to work with students, and what a total joy it has been!”
In gratitude for Duke’s lifelong influence on her student experience and career, Dean Sue made a bequest to support the Annual Fund, Duke Football, undergraduate financial aid, and student health and wellness.
“I hope that Duke continues to develop its sense of identity and authenticity so that it can help students develop theirs,” said Dean Sue. “I can never repay Duke for what it has given to and done for me, but I’m going to continue to try. My ongoing gifts over the years, as well as my bequest, will at least, in a small way, enable me to say ‘thank you’ for allowing Duke to truly not just be a part of my life, but my ‘forever.’”
Tell us about your Duke student experience.
When I arrived, it was overwhelming and frightening. I felt as though I had entered a completely foreign land. I was excited, nervous, scared, but hopeful. My decision to attend Duke has been the most impactful one of my life, and serving as a resident assistant during graduate school here had a very direct influence over my ultimate decision to become a higher education administrator. Above all, my student experience was challenging, humbling, and meaningful.
Why is giving back important?
I feel so fortunate to be in a position to give back to Duke.
As an undergraduate, my parents paid $73 to send me to Duke for my undergraduate degree. However, at the time, the cost of a Duke education over 40 years ago was significantly less than today. The fact that Duke provided full financial aid made it possible for me to attend Duke.
Even as a student, I thought about how I might pay Duke back for all that it had given to me. I just wish I could give more. It’s important that we all give back. It actually allows us to pay it forward, as others did for me.
What led you to direct your support to the Annual Fund, Duke Football, undergraduate financial aid and student health and wellness?
The Annual Fund is the most critical way, in my humble opinion, to support this place because it is unrestricted. I’ve also enormously enjoyed my relationship over the years with the staff of the Annual Fund—their passion about Duke is real.
Duke Football was an underdog for so long, and I wanted and needed to show my support. It was just a matter of time before Duke Football would emerge as a “force to reckon with.” Regardless, I’ve always felt that our student-athletes deserve support through the good, the bad, and the ugly times.
The substantial financial aid package that I received as a student played a major role in my decision to attend Duke. I think my support of undergraduate financial aid speaks for itself, as I hope that Duke will always have a need-blind admissions policy.
Finally, student health and wellness is a particular interest of mine, as I would like to see more students recognize the importance of self-care, overall health, and its connection to learning. I remind myself and Duke students every day that we must learn how to be healthy, and we must be healthy to learn.