Seniors and Their Families Give Back
Last year, 78 percent of the families of the Class 2016 donated a total of $741,793 for the Senior Parent Project. “In recognition of a gift from each senior family, Skidmore inscribes the name of their graduating student on a brick on the patio near Case Green. It serves as permanent recognition on campus to commemorate the Skidmore experience,” said Ann Dejnozka, the Executive Director of Family Leadership Giving.
In 2001, a group of Skidmore parent volunteers launched the Senior Parent Project. The program was created to recognize and celebrate the achievements of their children and provide financial support for students. Furthermore, the program reinforces the importance of philanthropy for graduating students. There is no minimum gift required to get an engraved brick. 219 families raised a total of $187,283 in 2001. Through Senior Parent Project donations, Dejnozka believes that “families have played a significant role in enhancing the quality of education for Skidmore students.”
Each summer a group of parents and students of the rising senior class meet to determine a designation for the donations. In the past, the funds have supported everything from financial aid to the Scribner Library. By supporting Financial Aid and Health and Wellness Initiatives, the class of 2017 group has identified the improvement of the well being of students as vital to the future of the college.
Dawn Baillie points out that “the hope is, as alumni, they will proudly find their names amongst their peers in future visits to the college.” Baillie and her husband Clive Baillie (parents of Paris Baillie ’17) are the leaders of this year’s Senior Parent Project Committee.
Baillie and her husband “decided to lend a hand to the 2017 Parent’s Fund Leadership Committee to bring awareness to the needs of the health office in providing more comprehensive emergency emotional support to the students.”
Baillie believes that the program’s “goal is to have every student contribute something, anything, in order to participate and have their name commemorated on the bricks. 100% participation by the families bonds the class together to achieve these goals.” Dejnozka emphasizes Baillie’s comments by stating, “This project is part of a larger tradition of family philanthropy at Skidmore.”
The Senior Parent Project is not the only way Skidmore tries to encourage graduating seniors and their families to donate back to Skidmore. There is also a student Senior Gift. Adam Wald ’94, Assistant Director of the Skidmore Fund and Senior Gift Advisor, expressed that the “Senior Gift is a decades old Skidmore tradition where the Senior class members make their first donation to the college in appreciation for their years at Skidmore and to support the students who will follow them.”
Abude Alasaad ’17, one of the Senior Gift Co-Chairs, recognizes the Senior Gift as “an opportunity for all of us, as members of the Class 2017, to come together and cherish our different experiences at Skidmore College by contributing back to the institution that gave us a million memories.”
The goal of the Senior Gift is to get as many seniors as possible to donate, rather than to reach a certain amount of money raised. This year’s Senior Gift Executive Committee has decided to set an all-time fundraising record by getting 94% of the seniors to participate. “If they succeed, a generous alumna has volunteered to double the class gift. So far, the class has raised over $3,800. With the match, the class could net over $7,500 for Skidmore,” said Wald.
For the administration, donations to the Senior Gift are more about participation than the amount because college rankings look at donor participation as one of their factors in their evaluation of schools. According to Wald, “every gift helps increase the value of your Skidmore degree through higher rankings.”
It is donations, similar to the Senior Gift and the Senior Parents Project, that are important in helping to sustain the future of Skidmore because tuition only covers about 80 percent of the cost of attending Skidmore. The remaining 20 percent comes from donors. Without donations to financial aid, nearly 40 percent of the student body would not be able to attend Skidmore.
Everyone donates to Skidmore for a different reason, but for Alasaad, “it's all about bringing people together. In its symbolic sentiment, Senior Gift is in many ways the glue that holds our class together.”
Photo courtesy of Skidmore College