Together, members of the Class of 2015 and the Class of 1965 are making a difference in the lives of future Lehigh students. Because the Class of 2015 senior class gift campaign was a great success in surpassing its goal of 650 donors, the campaign received an additional $10,000 challenge gift from the Class of 1965 to establish the Class of 2015 Endowed Scholarship Fund.
The 50th Reunion Class’s challenge to the seniors to reach their donor goal gave them an incentive to support the campaign. The senior class officers and gift committee members used the legacy of the endowed scholarship as a talking point to encourage their fellow seniors to give to the campaign.
The gift campaign was a student-led effort organized by members of the senior class gift committee. Casey Sharkey, associate director of student philanthropy, said that a high level of student involvement was the reason the campaign was so successful–with 702 seniors making gifts as of May 12.
“One of the great things about the campaign this year was it was really so student-driven,” Sharkey said. “Between the five class officers and our broader senior class gift committee, they really ran with it.”
Students’ gifts started at $5 and ranged across various giving levels, including the 2015 Club and the Asa Packer Society. This year, 48 seniors joined the Asa Packer Society at the student level by donating $100 or more. 195 students gave $20 or above, often exactly $20.15, thus granting them membership into the 2015 Club.
Student Asa Packer Society and 2015 Club members were invited to a Chicken Finger Friday event, where Senior Class President John Schultz ’15 thanked his classmates for their donations and for surpassing the goal.
Many students made donations towards Lehigh clubs or organizations that they are most passionate about. Sharkey noted that students were more eager to give when they could decide where their donation was going.
“When you’re about to graduate and you’re reflecting back on everything that Lehigh’s given you, it feels good to be able to say thank you,” said Sharkey. She said that seniors often donate because they want upcoming Lehigh classes to be able to have the same great experiences.
The campaign committee held various fundraising events in order to encourage students to give. During the Senior Class Gift Kick-Off, held in October, Interim President Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P spoke to seniors about his past experiences as a Lehigh senior and emphasized why the class gift is important. In the weeks leading up to the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette football game, the Association of Student Alumni sold Rivalry 150 scarves, the proceeds of which went toward the senior gift. The class officers also hosted several Senior Nights and made presentations at high-traffic areas on campus.
Donations were also raised during Grad Fair Days, a three-day event in March where students ordered caps and gowns and had the opportunity to donate to the senior class gift campaign, and again during Distribution Days when they picked up their Commencement regalia.
“I was eager to participate in doing something that not only would allow my graduating class to leave its footprint at Lehigh, but also to make a huge impact for future students,” said Liz Cornell ’15, a campaign committee member and IDEAS major. “Because of our gift campaign, the Class of 2015 can have the pleasure and pride of saying that they will be helping future students to enjoy perhaps the most memorable four years of their lives at such a well respected institution, just as we did.”