Advancement & Public Services

Bea Wehrly presentation

Bea Wehrly

Bea Wehrly Study Abroad Scholarship Fund

Dr. Bea Wehrly is a pioneer. As the first woman to complete a Ph.D. in the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at Texas A&M University, her work has been cited on behalf of women in the counseling profession. As a distinguished professor emeritus of Western Illinois University’s department of counselor education and college student personnel, her scholarly work in the area of cross-cultural counseling and contributions in the areas of multicultural understanding and career development have significantly influenced what is known today as multicultural counseling. She is credited with implementing an elementary school guidance program at Western and organizing six international study programs. She and her husband, Jim, endowed the Wehrly Scholarship in 1991 to benefit undergraduate students participating in volunteer efforts that impact favorably on basic human rights. In 1999, Bea helped establish the innovative Educators for Tomorrow Scholarship to assist students of diverse racial heritages pursuing careers in education.

Most recently, Dr. Wehrly donated $80,000 to endow the Beatrice Wehrly Study Abroad Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships for students majoring in the “helping professions” (education, social work, nursing, speech pathology, etc.) to study abroad.  “We are in a global society, whether we like it or not, and our students will be much better prepared for their professions by an international study experience,” says Bea. “I contributed this particular endowment level specifically so students can have a larger scholarship amount ($3,000) to subsidize the expenses associated with international study.” Wehrly also states, “I am hoping that students going abroad will be fully aware of their own cultural values before they travel and realize how these values impact their perspectives on the differing cultural values of other people.”

Wehrly’s interest in international study experiences was influenced soon after her 1969 arrival at Western by the late John Westover, then director of international programs at WIU. Westover had returned from World War II convinced of the importance of students knowing the world and heavily promoted international study experiences. Under the influence of Dr. Westover, and with the cooperation of his successor, Dr. Robert Gabler, Bea organized and led six summer trips for students: three to Europe, two to the South Pacific, and one to Asia.

“Bea Wehrly knew the importance of international experience before it was fashionable,” says Western’s current Center for International Studies Director Terry Rodenberg. “Her gift will not only impact the lives of today’s students, she will influence students who will attend WIU in the future.”

“Dr. Wehrly’s continued generosity will enable Western students to enhance their global awareness and understanding of other cultures,” says WIU President Al Goldfarb. “The Western community sincerely appreciates her support of our strategic plan and core values, and of our students.”