Senior class gift: Students choose where to donate

MARAIS JACON-DUFFY
NEWS EDITOR

Butler’s graduating class of 2014 will have the option to donate to a campus group, club, building, athletic team or academic college of their choice.
Students can choose to donate to Butler’s colleges, scholarships, Office of Student Affairs, athletic teams and other organizations.
Seniors can provide donations to essentially any group or structure on campus with a gift fund.
Class president Michael Keller said the decision to change the senior gift is intended to get more people involved in the giving process.
“I wasn’t really sold on the idea until I saw data from previous years that showed only 10 or 15 percent of the senior classes were even donating to their class gift,” Keller said. “The big goal of this is to get more people involved, and hopefully they will if they have the freedom to choose where they want donate.”
Jennie Jones, associate director of alumni and parents’ programs, said she received mixed reviews about the traditional gift-giving system during the past six years she has worked with seniors on the process.
“There’s always a group that’s very happy with the senior gift and another group that doesn’t really resonate with the gift,” Jones said. “The hope is that, with this system, students will feel more a part of creating a legacy.”
Jones said many students don’t realize that basic operating costs at Butler are paid for by donations.
“This will hopefully better educate students about what donations bring to campus and why they are important,” Jones said.
While the official announcement of the change has not been made, Jones said she has received positive feedback from class officers and a small group of seniors who previewed the new system.
“They all seem pretty excited about the new freedom and choices,” Jones said.
Keller said some of his senior class peers are upset that they won’t have a physical structure commemorating their graduating class.
“The only real concern I’ve heard is that there won’t be something you can physically see when you return to campus 10 years down the line,” Keller said.
The senior class officers and Butler’s administration are willing to create some kind of tangible item to go along with the 2014 class gift, Keller said.
“They’re on board, but as of now we’re still figuring out the what and the where for this gift,” Keller said.
Robbie Kusz, assistant director of annual giving, is a 2009 Butler graduate who likes the new senior gift-giving program.
Kusz said hindsight as an alum gives him the perspective to say this class gift system will be better for students.
“My class gift was the bust of Tony Hinkle,” Kusz said. “Honestly, I don’t care that much about that bust, and I don’t really connect to that specific statue. So having the ability to choose a specific place to donate really means a lot more.”
Kusz said every student will have a different favorite part of their college experience, which will influence what they donate to.
“Some students might feel that athletics most influenced their Butler experience, but another student might feel that Student Affairs was the most important part of their time at Butler,” Kusz said. “Whatever it may be, students can donate to that specific area.”
Keller said he will likely donate to the Office of Student Affairs.
“Being a part of SGA and Student Affairs was something that I really enjoyed during my time at Butler,” Keller said.
Kusz, Jones and Keller all said students who wish to donate outside of the major broad categories listed as donation options can do so if there is a gift fund for that specific group, club or entity.
Kusz said students who donate through this annual gift giving program will actively begin their career as donors.
“When you leave Butler, you won’t always be able to play on a sports team or be a part of a club,” Kusz said. “But donating is an act that students and alums can take part in after graduating.”
Keller said students who wish to provide feedback for the new system can contact him or any senior class officers.
Kusz said this system is being used at peer universities, and research shows it is well received at those locations.
This system will hopefully become the new norm for Butler’s campus, Jones and Keller said.
“This will definitely be a trial year for this system,” Keller said. “But the goal is to get donations much higher than it’s been in the past, like at 25 or 30 percent.”
Jones said she has already begun gauging reactions of class of 2015 officers to potentially continue this system.
“This is definitely something we would love to see continued for years to come,” Jones said.

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