Two years are all Al (fs’60) and Dotty (Penner, fs’60) Warkentine needed to know how transformative Tabor College can be.
It is one part of their story as the longtime Tabor supporters have created the Al & Dotty Warkentine Endowed Professor Challenge. The Challenge can add up to five endowed positions if met by Easter 2024.
An Endowed Professor and/or Chair was initially brought to their attention by President David Janzen. In following conversations, they sought to learn what it entailed. It led to their memories of their professors, remembering their influence and the legacy left over the last six decades.
Dotty said God put a nudge on their hearts to take the next step, and the challenge was born soon after. Now, they invite other donors to come alongside them.
“The blessing that a gift like this has on the budget is one thing, but it also has a lifelong impact,” Al said. “The interest earned on Endowment funds goes on for 5, 10, 15, and 100-plus years and truly is a gift that keeps giving.”
With friendships that date back to their days at Tabor, Al and Dotty often reflect on their experience.
Al, a retired dentist, remembers walking into the classrooms of Dr. Solomon L. Loewen and Dr. Will Johnson, understanding the quality of education Tabor students received. For both, professors Malinda Nikkel, Dr. Emil Thiessen, and Dr. Lando Hiebert were a part of building their foundation as students and working professionals.
“Their encouragement along the way was so meaningful,” Al said. “When I was battling the fact that I knew I was not going to go into engineering, it seemed like I struggled with what direction I wanted to go. These professors were always willing to sit down, counsel, and listen to you on what was next.”
With a storied legacy of students entering healthcare, Al and Dotty want to support the sciences and see Tabor students achieve their dreams in the industry.
“We have personally experienced relatives who have tried to get into medical school and how difficult it is,” Dotty said. “They have to try over and over again. I look at what Tabor can do, and we are so impressed by that. If we can strengthen that for Tabor, it can be a positive recruiting tool for those who want to go into medical school.”
Al and Dotty said this gift is also a vote of confidence in Christian higher education and Tabor’s investments in its students moving forward.
“David and Karen are so personable, and we felt connected from their very first visit,” Dotty said. “Beyond their warmth and kindness, we are so impressed with his grasp of what is needed to make Tabor College survive in today’s world. That is why we feel so good about putting some funds there.”