By Stephanie Carlozzi
As graduation approaches, Furman seniors will have the opportunity to contribute to the longstanding tradition of the senior gift, a chance for the graduating class to give back to the university as they prepare for life as an alumni.
The class of 2013 renamed the tradition “Furman First Gift” to emphasize donating to the university as the first of many financial commitments to one’s alma mater.
This year, all the money raised by the class of 2014 will go to the Furman United scholarship funds. The program began amid the 2008 recession and helps students pay tuition during a period of financial hardship. The scholarships are able to assist about eight of every ten students in a tight financial situation, enabling them to finish out their Furman education.
Ashley Baker, Furman’s Associate Director of Donor Marketing, is the advisor to the student group organizing this year’s senior gift. She said this year’s gift distinguishes itself from previous gifts because it will help students directly. In previous years, the senior gift has paid for the construction of physical structures like the back gate on campus.
“Graduating seniors who are donating to this year’s gift should understand how their gift will make a lasting impact,” Baker said.
This year’s gift allows seniors to donate at different levels. Starting level donors who give $20.14 or more will receive a personalized brick on the Bell Tower walkway.
A second level donor who gives his or her housing deposit in addition to the brick purchase will become one of Furman’s Young Benefactors. This new opportunity is more expensive to join and represents a commitment to contribute to Furman after graduation. By their tenth reunion, Furman’s Young Benefactors will have donated $1,000 and will receive invites to exclusive events.
Seniors can donate on the Furman senior gift website or at events around campus such as those held during Donor Appreciation week. The university will raffle Incentives to donate at some of these functions, but the competitive drive to trump the class of 2011’s all time high participation percentage of 60% might also rally graduates to open their wallets.
According to the senior gift website, about eight percent of the 2014 graduating class has already donated to Furman First Gift. Personal anecdotes from students who received assistance from the Furman United scholarship funds are also on the site.