As a St. Louis native, Class of 1963 alumna, former scholarship recipient, and staff member since 1988, Georgia Binnington is a vital part of Washington University and the Sam Fox School.
"By now, I've come to learn this place inside and out," explains Binnington, the school's associate dean of students, who is responsible for providing academic advisement, mentorship, and resource navigation to College of Art & Architecture undergraduates. "But the students—they're always bringing something new and fascinating to the table. I talk with them in-depth every day, and every day they make me feel blessed to do what I do."
How do you describe your role at the university?
I'm the listener. I'm the person these students come to to talk about their problems, ask questions, get guidance, or get pointed in another direction. Sometimes I'm the person who they listen to, but more important is that I listen to them.
How does your own history as a scholarship recipient inform your decision to give to Washington University?
My family never had a lot of money. The only way I could attend here was with the scholarship I received, so I am always aware of students who cannot afford to come to Washington U, who need some kind of assistance to be able to come, and who really want to come. I meet them. I talk with them. Amazing students will tell me, “This is a reach for my family and me.”
What has led you to fund a scholarship in honor of Ron Leax, the Halsey C. Ives Professor of Art?
When I came to work at Washington University, Ron was one of the very first people I met. We traveled together to portfolio days to do reviews, we worked together on lots of things that first year. He was new; I was new. His friendship and collegiality have meant the world to me, and we are still best friends. And of course, he's an amazing teacher. He's won the College Art Association Teacher of the Year Award. He's just remarkable, and it's important to honor those who mean a lot to us.
Why should faculty and staff members give to the campaign?
If you know one student here who is struggling with tuition or worried about buying books—and every single staff and faculty member here knows at least one student like that—think of that student and how much it means, or would mean, to them to receive financial support. If every staff member gave $5 to scholarships, that would add up to a lot. And every single dollar helps these wonderful students.
Somebody's given something to all of us, or we wouldn't be working at Washington University. We wouldn't have the opportunity to be in this place, and a lot of faculty and staff are sending their children here tuition-free. That's a big bonus. So giving $5, $50, or $100 to help other students—it’s a fabulous gesture.