Seniors Connect by Giving Back to Mount Holyoke


Since 1979, members of Mount Holyoke's senior class have joined in a century-old alumnae tradition of giving back to the College. Through the Senior Gift Program, recent graduating classes have contributed needed support in areas relating to cultural diversity on campus (1999), the arts (1998), the Alumnae Fund, and the summer internship programs (1997). The program has helped in the acquisition of digital imaging equipment, a wheelchair lift, and, just last year, outdoor wooden swings, which will be installed on campus this spring. With commencement a mere fifteen weeks away, the 2001 program reports contributions from an impressive 66 percent of the senior class. More than $2,000 has been raised.

“It's going so well,” says Grace Bianciardi '01, who has taken on the responsibility of overseeing the Senior Gift Program as cohead class agent with Sarah Croog '01. The two will be leading the class of 2001 Alumnae Fund effort for the next five years. “The program is helping seniors feel connected—with one foot out the door and one foot still in. When we leave, we will have this tie with the College. This is our chance to leave a lasting impact, to show that the class of 2001 really cared about Mount Holyoke.”

The fundraising team of seniors, recruited by Bianciardi and Croog, has been working since September to make one-on-one contact with every senior in order to raise funds for the College. “It has been an incredible effort,” says Bridget M. Leung-Ingram, annual funds and special gifts officer. “We have a spirited and enthusiastic group working to encourage students to make a gesture of thanks to the College for the experiences and opportunities that have been made available to women here.”

A recent “senior giving week,” organized by the fundraising team, resulted in a 12 percent jump in participation, says Bianciardi. The team set up a booth in Blanchard Campus Center, draped it in green Christmas bulbs, and provided cookies for contributors. Later in the semester, tickets for the senior ball will offer students the option of giving to the Senior Gift Program, and the fundraising team will set up another booth in Blanchard during commencement week. The names of those who made contributions will appear in a booklet to be made available at commencement.

Bianciardi notes that the fundraising team stresses the importance of making a gesture of any size, with emphasis given to participation rather than dollar amount. Leung-Ingram points out that the program has valuable lessons to teach about annualgiving. Many students are unaware that tuition and fees at Mount Holyoke cover only about 50 percent of a student's education. While senior contributions have helped defray the costs of needed services and equipment, the program is also influential in boosting the College's national profile. Alumnae view the Senior Gift as an indicator of students' satisfaction with the College, and alumnae gift giving is also taken into account by corporations and foundations when they are determining grant support.

Students have until the day of commencement to contribute to the Senior Gift, and Bianciardi says she's optimistic about achieving 100 percent participation. “We're already two-thirds of the way there,” she says. In the spring, seniors who have made contributions will be asked to vote on how the funds are to be used. They will have the option of identifying a particular area of support or of choosing to add the Senior Gift to the general Alumnae Fund.

“Our biggest goal,” says Bianciardi, “is to make seniors feel that they can connect with their class and alumnae, by showing their support through participation in the Senior Gift Program. It's an awesome way to remain a part of Mount Holyoke.”



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Copyright © 2001 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by The Office of Communications and maintained by Jennifer Adams. Last modified on February 23, 2001.