It all started with senior gift chairs Elizabeth McCann 00 and Rebecca Freedman 00, who were inspired by the annual funds senior associate director Adele Einhorn 80 to direct their campaign toward a particular, and particularly inspiring, cause. They decided on an ambitious plan to leave a scholarship behind for a member of the next Skidmore class. Einhorn says, Everyone knows how many students rely on financial aid. When they thought of what Skidmore would be like without those people, they wanted to strengthen that aid.
McCann says, A campus bench or tree may be a more visible or durable gift, but the scholarship felt much more meaningful, especially since what we gave to Skidmore was the beginning of a potentially long-lasting tradition. Her classmates evidently agreed: the 00 campaign attracted an impressive 79 percent of the class, well ahead of most previous senior giving. Of course, even at 79 percent, they knew they couldnt raise the $10,000 needed to fund a scholarship. So they redoubled their ingenuity.
At a trustees meeting on campus, McCann and Freedman made a challenge-grant proposal: if they could reach 75 percent participation, would a trustee designate his or her gift that year to making up the difference in the dollar amount to reach $10,000? In a flash the senior gift drive became a presidents challenge, as alumni board president Beverly Harrison Miller 67 and college president Jamienne S. Studley promised to fulfill the seniors wishes. With that promise and the now truly achievable goal of providing a substantial scholarship to a fellow student, the campaign became a rollicking success and blew right by its goal.
The graduating class proudly presented its gift to the college at Commencement 2000, and over the summer the recipient was selected according to financial need, academic merit, and community service. At that point, Drea Brooks says, I didnt really identify with the idea of a class gift at alluntil I got the scholarship. As the senior donors had also found, Its so much more personal than some other gifts, she says.
Now the history major and business minor (with interests in the yearbook, residence-hall leadership, and the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society) has joined with co-chair Catherine Tai 01 to carry on the new tradition. This years goal is to match or beat last years 79 percent participation, so the two gift chairs are busy recruiting lots of volunteers to invite all their classmates on board. And soon theyll be seeking a matching gift to help them raise the full $10,000. Its fun, says Brooks, who seems calm and confident despite her ambitious goals.
Stay tuned: the class will have an announcement at Commencement 01. SR
© 2001 Skidmore College