We sat down with Barb Bindler, AB ’65, to discuss the role of volunteering in her life and her 60-year connection to Washington University. Barb and her husband Dan (BSBA ’65) met at WashU, married between their junior and senior years, and have spent the time since graduation as enthusiastic supporters of the university. Barb taught high school Spanish and English before pivoting to volunteer work after their daughters were born; Dan had a long career as a certified public accountant. She and Dan live in St. Louis and enjoy spending time with their two daughters (Susan, JD ’93, and Debra) and their grandchildren.

As you look back at 20 years of service for the Eliot Society, what motivates you to volunteer?

My volunteer purpose statement has always been: I am passionate about bringing people together for successful accomplishments. I want to motivate people; I want to get involved and be an inspiration to others. Volunteering has always been very rewarding to me, especially volunteering for WashU. I feel that I’m giving back a part of what I’ve been fortunate to have.

What have you enjoyed most about your volunteer work for the Eliot Society?

Our Arts & Sciences committee is very active, and we do our best to explore campus as much as possible. We were able to tour Sumers Rec Center when it was about three-quarters finished, and we got a preview to the renovation of Olin Library as well – in hard hats! We work a lot, because Arts & Sciences has a very heavy fundraising and participation goal. Our primary goal is motivation and commitment: enrolling new Eliot Society members and retaining the members we have, but we also have a lot of fun and learn a lot. Our friends around town know that if they want to know what’s going on at WashU, they can ask me and Dan, and we’ll know, because we stay connected through our volunteer work.

How has WashU affected your life?

Barb (left) and Dan Bindler pose for a photo
Barb Bindler, AB ’65, and her husband Dan, BSBA ’65, met at WashU.

My husband Dan and I met here, and we graduated in 1965, so WashU feels like home. We’ve always had a sense of gratitude toward the university for giving us the education that set us up for success. My years here as a student were extremely productive and maintaining that connection to the university gives me a lot of pleasure. And by volunteering for the university, especially in a group setting, we’ve enhanced our sense of attachment and belonging. That feeling is so important, not just for people my age, but for younger people looking for connection as well.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to start volunteering?

First, pick a topic. What interests you? Arts & Sciences, the business school, helping students, raising money? There are so many opportunities in a university like this to find something that appeals to you. Then, be honest with yourself about your time limits. Nobody has all the time in the world – not even me! Once you’ve answered those questions, reach out to University Advancement staff. The Arts & Sciences Eliot Committee is very friendly! However you can help the university, though, it’s worth it. It’s a good feeling if you can even touch one other person’s life.

What excites you about the future of WashU?

When I enrolled in the 1960s, WashU was a fabulous private school, but it was not nationally known like it is today. There were just a few students from different locations and different states. So the growth of the university, attracting diverse students and faculty from around the world is wonderful. At the same time, Chancellor Martin’s emphasis on WashU being “in St. Louis, for St. Louis, with St. Louis” is exciting. These global and local perspectives will ensure the longevity of the university.

Learn more about the William Greenleaf Eliot Society and its role in providing vital funding for WashU’s Annual Fund.