• Members of the 2011 Senior Gift Council present President Schrum with their gift at Commencement. (Photo by Lucas Adams)
    Members of the 2011 Senior Gift Council present President Schrum with their gift at Commencement. (Photo by Lucas Adams)

The Class of 2011 has left Southwestern but it will be remembered for years to come.

At the May 7 Commencement ceremony, the class presented President Jake B. Schrum with a class gift of $47,472.48 – the largest in the university’s history. The gift drew a standing ovation from the crowd.

“To see the faculty stand up and acknowledge the huge accomplishment warmed my heart,” said Danielle Stapleton ‘05, assistant director of annual giving. “A lot of people came up and congratulated them.”

Eight students from the class of 2011 worked on the Senior Gift Council: Alex Burbey, Amy Crook , Victoria Dominguez, Addison English, Ursula James, Kirsten Lampi, Dyann Lopez and Brittany Sayer. The students worked in collaboration with the Annual Giving staff to promote donations for the gift throughout their senior year.

“We worked hard to educate our classmates on the importance of philanthropy at Southwestern,” James said as she presented the check.

Fundraising events the Senior Gift Council hosted included a Southwestern tradition that dates back to 1912 – Tower Days. More than 100 students from the Class of 2011 etched their signature among the other alumni signatures in the fourth floor tower of the Cullen Building. The Tower Days required a $5 donation to participate and many donated more. Some social alumni events were also hosted to encourage donations. Senior parents were encouraged to make gifts in honor of their students’ accomplishments through a phone-a-thon and letters.

In all, 55 percent of the students in the Class of 2011 contributed to the class gift. Student donations totaled $2,000 and parents contributed the rest.

Stapleton said a major selling point for donations this year was the ability to choose a cause or department within the university to donate to. While it was popular to contribute funds to the Pirate Bike program and athletics, donations also went to academic departments of the contributor’s choice.

“I think it made a difference that we told them that they could support whatever they wanted to donate to on campus,” Stapleton said.

Stapleton said the donation was significantly more than previous years, with the class gift typically ranging from $12,000 to approximately $30,000 during the past decade.

“I think the student body is a little bit more civically involved than past years. They were a naturally philanthropic group on campus,” Stapleton said.

Stapleton said she hopes the participation and motivation continues for years to come.

“We don’t set a monetary goal because it is somewhat unpredictable, but we do hope for at least 55 percent participation again next year,” she said.

In the meantime, Senior Gift Council member Dyann Lopez said she hopes this isn’t the last Southwestern will hear from the Class of 2011.

“I hope this gift is only the beginning of the impact we have on our alma mater,” she said.

−Kristen McLaughlin