Student participation sets new record
By Susan Curphey
After a nine-year hiatus, the class of 2011, in collaboration with the development department, reestablished the tradition of a senior class gift. The timing was right in that it helped celebrate John Carroll University’s 125th anniversary. In fact, the response to the revival of a class gift was so enthusiastic, the seniors set a new record with 28 percent class participation, breaking the previous record of 27 percent held by the class of 1986.
“The students pulled together to make this happen,” says Deacon Robert Kirschner, director of annual giving. “The class gift is an excellent way to teach students the importance of supporting their alma mater.”
In early March, members of Kirschner’s staff recruited a team of a dozen seniors from student government, the Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Student Calling Center to serve on a committee. The group promptly developed a survey to poll the senior class about its gift preferences and gather additional ideas. Remarkably, 300 students (representing about half the class) responded.
The survey results showed the seniors strongly favored that their donations go toward the purchase of a water-bottle filling station as a way to support the University’s commitment to sustainability and creating a greener campus. The environmentally friendly water cooler fills reusable bottles with filtered water and displays the number of bottles it saves from landfills.
Once the gift was determined, the campaign committee encouraged donations by offering a free class of 2011 JCU water bottle for contributions of $1 or more. Additional incentive came from two alumni who challenged the seniors by pledging an additional $1,500 (combined) toward the gift if they reached 20-percent participation. Together, alumni and student donations totaled about $2,200, which allowed for the purchase of two water-filling stations, which are located in the D.J. Lombardo Student Center by the cafeteria and in the Recplex near the workout facility.
Ken Tubbs ’11, who was one of the students working on the campaign and also works in the Student Calling Center, had previous experience with undergraduate giving through his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta.
“The number of donations is astronomical when people donate while they’re still active in an organization,” says Tubbs, who serves as a chapter leadership consultant for the fraternity. “We wanted to apply that to the Carroll community. The size of the donation is one thing, but the intent is what matters. It’s important to find ways to give back, even if it’s only $5 or $10.”
One of the keys to the success of the campaign was the students’ ability to donate online while registering for Senior Week events.
“People were already pulling out their credit cards to pay for some of the activities, so they could easily make their donations at the same time,” says former committee member, Maura Jochum ’11, who was senior class president and one of the coordinators of Senior Week.
The committee also set up donation tables in the Schott Atrium and cafeteria in the Student Center so students could make contributions easily. Additionally, the campaign was highly publicized through email blasts to seniors and on Facebook and Twitter.
Jochum, in her first year at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, praises her JCU colleagues for their record-breaking participation.
“It can be a challenge to ask for money from people who don’t have much disposable income, so it was exciting to see how much our class cared and wanted to give back to the University that has given us so much,” she says. “Graduation isn’t the end of our commitment and connection to Carroll, it’s just a chapter of it.” JCU