We recently spoke with long-time friend and supporter of Champlain College Carole Hauke, to hear her story of how she became connected to the College, and learn about her journey as a woman making a major impact in philanthropy.
Tell us a little bit about why you have a passion for philanthropy.
I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. From the time I was in seventh grade through college, I attended all girls schools. There were no sports at Girls Latin School. Fortunately for me, I was not good at sports, so I spent my time volunteering to work with children with developmental disabilities, which I continued to do throughout college and in my early years in Vermont. I have always had a strong desire to create and foster lasting relationships. My parents always instilled in me the values of education and helping others. I met my husband Bill on a blind date while attending Simmons college. He liked to joke, saying “college gave me my wife.”
Coming from a family of educators, it has always been second nature to me to care about higher education. How did you first come to be affiliated with Champlain?
Many years ago, when Champlain was still a two-year school, the college reached out to surrounding neighbors to connect with them about Champlain’s hope to expand the school. They wanted to include the neighbors in the process and discussions. Bill went to check out the school and see what the plan was, and I will never forget his reaction. He came home and said “you have to come with me now and see what’s happening at Champlain.” I had dinner on the stove with all my kids at home, but I said OK and off we went. We just instantly felt a connection to the school. Simultaneously, President Bob Skiff was meeting with Bill’s mother and father, William and Ellinor Hauke, about the capital campaign for the Hauke Family Campus Center. We were so impressed. Bill became very interested and was asked to become a member of the board of trustees, a position that he held for twelve years, two of which he served as the chairman of the board.
We had been connected to the College for a while and really loved what we were seeing. We were so impressed and we just believed in what the future would be for this school. Even then, you could see something special was happening. Our involvement became a family affair. We all saw something good and agreed we should support it. We became instant friends with Shelly Richardson, and her passion for Champlain College was truly infectious.
How do you feel when you make a gift?
I feel strongly that I am making a difference. I feel honored to support the things that I care about. Honestly, it’s a little selfish too – I get such joy out of doing it. To me, it is far more rewarding than buying things for myself.
I know I am making a difference. Bill and I both woke up every day with the desire to do something positive for others, no matter how big or small. Unfortunately, Bill passed away in 2015 after fifty three years of marriage. I lost my partner and my soulmate. Bill and I made a commitment that should anything happen to either of us, the other would carry on with the things that we did together. Bill and I had four children and eleven grandchildren. Our granddaughter Molly Dickin and her fiancé Nathaniel Adkins are both recent graduates of Champlain College. Family is and was everything to Bill and I.
What do you hope to accomplish through your philanthropy?
More than anything, I want to make the world a better place, in whatever way I can. I know that’s a big goal. Education is vital and has always been one of my top priorities, but what I really want to do is help others however I can. I also feel that I have a responsibility to set an example for the younger generation.
What keeps you connected to Champlain after all this time?
Well, I visit when I can. I love to see what is going on, but you keep me connected. You reach out to me and keep me informed. I feel like you care about me. If I have a question you answer me. You’re like family. I have so many wonderful memories tied to Champlain. I remember celebrating both Bill’s parents (William and Ellinor Hauke) and my parents (George and Doris Aherne) 60th wedding anniversaries at Champlain College.
Bill and I always took our out of state guests to visit Champlain College, which is something that I still do. We made many friends through our involvement with Champlain College. It was always a fun place to be a part of. You have been connected to our Single Parents’ Program for many years.
Do you have an anecdote or story about your involvement with Champlain that really moved you?
One thing that comes to mind is early on in the program, I was part of the group who organized food drives for the parents. We would provide meals to students during particularly stressful times, such as the holidays and the stretch of time leading up to exams. It was so wonderful to help students and relieve some of their stress. We also did clothing drives to make sure they were prepared for interviews or other settings where they needed more professional clothing. Bringing them a little joy was so rewarding.
As more women are stepping up to lead in numerous ways, how do you see the role of women mobilizing their money and resources as part of that shift?
I think the idea of helping others in need is something to be learned at an early age. I was fortunate to be empowered to make decisions about how I wanted to direct our support and I felt prepared to do so. If you have the opportunity to make a difference, you have the responsibility to do so. I think it’s that simple. Women can see the needs of other women more keenly. Women are helpers by nature. We don’t just write a check. We act and we get involved. We want to see that what we are doing is making a difference. That is how real change happens.
How do you see the role of women’s philanthropy as a positive – in the face of the pandemic?
The need is so great in so many areas and will continue to be for quite some time. During the pandemic, I was faced with so many things that I couldn’t do, but making a difference is something I could do, even from inside my house. During the pandemic my involvement with organizations I support gave me something positive to focus on. In the condo that I live in Florida, we were able to work together in order to get everybody in our building vaccinated. Women are creative. We solve problems. As more women get involved with philanthropy, real change will happen on so many levels.
If you were talking to someone else about giving to Champlain, what would you tell them?
I would say visit the school and see for yourself all that Champlain College has to offer. Engage with the students. The decision will be easy. Talk to graduates and see how they are doing. Become a part of the community. Champlain is such a unique place. It is hard to explain. They actually do the things they say they do! I have been so impressed with the way that the college stays true to its core values while evolving and growing to meet the demands of the changing world.
What do you wish everyone knew about Champlain?
I would love for people to know about how they have changed and grown with time. It really is remarkable. They’ve made tough decisions when they had to and weathered some storms, but have always been able to remain true to who they are. Champlain is committed to being part of the community. They take that seriously. Something else really important to know, is that when students graduate, they are prepared and they get jobs! Champlain is all about people putting people first and it shows.
Do you have a message or final thought to share?
Whatever you do, do it well. If something isn’t working – change it. I think that Champlain College does this very well. Helping others is good for you. You feel better. Your mental health is better. You are part of something bigger than yourself.
If interested in joining Carole in supporting Champlain, you can make a gift here.