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Fall 2003

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Centennial spotlight

On campus

Faculty focus

Arts on view



Class notes


Meet the Friends of the Presidents

Established in 1966, the Friends of the Presidents Society recognizes the college’s most generous donors, who set an example of leadership in annual giving (the gift level for membership is $2,000, with a sliding scale of lower levels for the most recent classes).

     When Marisa Behnke ’99 graduated with a degree in business, she assumed she’d find a place in the corporate world and settle in. She tried planning trade shows for Microsoft in her hometown of Seattle, but found that she “hated it—there simply wasn’t any satisfaction in that realm for me.”
     In 2001 she became a fundraiser and publicist for Childhaven, a Seattle nonprofit that provides comprehensive care to battered and abused children. There she helped realize a $15 million campaign goal. At the same time, she became a member of Skidmore’s national Friends of the Presidents committee and served as FOP co-chair for her class—earning a nomination for Skidmore’s David H. Porter Award for Young Alumni Volunteerism.
      “I come from a philanthropic family,” Behnke says. “Even when I was in high school, my dad was telling me, ‘You have to give back to the community that raised you.’ That idea was embedded in my thinking. I know that a lot of recent graduates who have just paid tuition for four years wonder why they should consider making a gift. But tuition doesn’t cover extras, like financial aid. We can’t forget about all the kids who aren’t able to go to college without taking out loans or working two jobs.”
     Behnke also points out that strong alumni involvement can strengthen a school and enhance its reputation. “When I say I graduated from Skidmore, I want people to say, ‘Wow, that’s a great school,’” she says.
     For Behnke—who is now community development coordinator for Seattle’s Northwest Center Foundation, which operates on-site businesses that employ individuals with disabilities and also facilitates off-site employment at local stores and restaurants—Skidmore helped shape the life she lives today. Giving something back to the college, she says, was “just something I knew I would do from the first moment I arrived there.” —MM


© 2003 Skidmore College