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Young Donors: Students Are Boosting Their IUP Philanthropy. What Gives?

By Regan Houser
November 30, 2012
Appeared in the
Fall-Winter 2012 issue of IUP Magazine

Brand conscious and inspired by alumni giving, today’s students see the connection between IUP success and their own. They’ll take it from there.

Investing in Themselves

Student Giving Sign in the Oak Grove

Signs are placed around campus at the beginning of each academic year to heighten student awareness about alumni generosity.

The number of students who make a gift to IUP from their own pockets or through their own fund-raising efforts has increased steadily in the last three years. Their generosity may be sparked by the example their predecessors, IUP alumni, set when they give to their alma mater.

On a snowy day last January, hundreds of students gathered in the Hadley Union Building to pay tribute to the 9,438 alumni, parents, and friends of the university who made gifts to IUP through the Annual Fund. In an event known as Tuition Freedom Day—one that symbolized the time in the academic year when tuition dollars stop paying for students’ education and private gifts begin to cover the cost—students stopped by for a snack and to write thank-you notes.

Emily Davis Smeltz ’01, M’02, whose office runs the Annual Fund and organizes student giving programs on campus, believes students learn something important from activities like Tuition Freedom Day, which is being retooled this year as IUP Philanthropy Day.

“They need to know how the generosity of others affects their educational environment,” Smeltz said. “They need to know that alumni give to IUP through the phonathon, direct mail, or through our e-mail campaigns—that gifts from alumni and others help to fund many things on our campus that directly affect them. It’s important that they thank those who have treated them so well.

“And, they’re surprised. When they find out how many people have given to IUP to their benefit, they feel compelled to take a moment to write a postcard to thank a donor. We don’t have to ask twice.”

That moment of recognition also has sparked in students awareness about the needs of their campus. Smeltz theorizes that students today tend to be more aware than their predecessors of what their tuition costs and what their debt will be when they graduate. In addition, they tend to be more brand conscious and want to know they’re graduating from a school that has the best of everything—including a reputation that will help them to compete in the job market.

Smeltz’s office also facilitates the Senior Class Gift program, through which class members choose IUP initiatives to support. “While they aren’t always able to give large sums, students are more cognizant than ever that their own contributions can mean something,” she said.

The Senior Class Gift experienced a 64 percent increase in number of gifts in 2012, the program’s 12th year. Most of the campaign’s proceeds were directed toward the Sutton Scholarship, a new scholarship being used to recruit high-achieving students, and the Science Discovery and Outdoor Learning Center, a fully equipped pavilion next to Stouffer Hall that teacher education majors use to facilitate programming for local elementary students.

Likewise, the IUP Ambassadors organization has funded several initiatives through its annual tuition raffle, established in 1994. Proceeds have supported scholarships, Six O’Clock Series programming, books and technology for IUP Libraries, and the technology in the Science Discovery and Outdoor Learning Center.

“Awareness of how gifts make IUP a better place is sparking attention,” Smeltz said. “Truly, students are interested in seeing their university be its best. They recognize the importance to them personally, and they see it will be valuable to them after they graduate.”

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Scholarships Carry the Greatest Impact

While gifts that benefit program enhancements and capital improvements do improve the student experience, scholarships most directly affect students’ ability to spend more time studying and less time working to pay their tuition and expenses—or incurring more debt. The following efforts reach the most students.

Sutton Scholarship

Established last year, the Sutton Scholarship is being used by the Office of Admissions to recruit high-achieving undergraduate students. Students who are chosen to receive the scholarship will earn $2,000 per year and will have a chance to renew the scholarship for up to four years, based on academic performance.

Dean’s Merit Scholarships

Some students struggle with tuition, but others find extra costs difficult to overcome. For example, study abroad or professional conferences can provide a life-changing experience, but their costs are often out of reach. Dean’s Merit Scholarships allow those who oversee the academic community to give students in need of financial assistance access to those experiences.

Fund for IUP

An unrestricted account, the Fund for IUP assists the university with the greatest need at any time. Most recently, the Fund for IUP helped to cover the initial funding needed to kick off the Sutton Scholarship. While alumni, students, and faculty and staff members are contributing to the scholarship now, the Fund for IUP has enabled the university to offer it to students who will enter IUP next fall.

Your Investment Will Help Students

Readers interested in assisting students through scholarship support may do so immediately by visiting the IUP Online Gift Form or by responding to calls from IUP’s student-run phonathon or letters and e-mail messages from the Office of Annual Giving.

Tuition Freedom Day

Students gathered during Tuition Freedom Day 2012 to write thank-you notes to IUP donors. From left: Chrystal Eady, Ryan Egan, and Amanda Ocando.

More from the Fall-Winter 2012 Issue of IUP Magazine

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Susan Snyder ’85 on winning the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

 

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Several principles will guide us as we formulate together our vision of the future IUP.

Web Exclusives

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Bob Henger ’63 devotes a chapter of his book to his years at Indiana State College.

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Some of the more unusual memorabilia that alumni have lovingly donated to IUP.

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 Photo Gallery | In Brief | Letters to the Editor

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Crimson Core

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