Graduates raise College senior gift record

by Abigail Klingbeil | 6/11/95 5:00am

Each year, Dartmouth's senior class gives a gift to the College -- usually not a tangible gift but a promise of future donations.

This year, the Class of 1995 set a College senior gift record by raising over $100,000 in four-year pledges made by about 55 percent of the class, Assistant Director of the Alumni Fund Joe Whitworth said. He said the money "goes to the College for current use, unrestricted."

Whitworth said each year the four senior interns to the alumni fund are in charge of getting in touch with the rest of their class to set up a four-year senior gift program. This year's graduating seniors will give from 1996 to 1999.

The four alumni fund interns this year were seniors Janet Heiss, David Jones Jr., Lisa Koestner and Adriana McGrath.

Koestner said the drive, which operated on a pyramid structure.

In an electronic-mail message, McGrath explained how the structure worked. "We set up a pyramid for the entire class, starting with the four interns on the top. Each of us selected about 10 captains who in turn selected five to seven agents to be on their teams. The agents each spoke to about four to six prospects about a gift. In this way we targeted the entire class."

Whitworth said because it is senior spring, many seniors are getting nostalgic and so it is a "pretty easy sell."

When asked how seniors felt about giving money, McGrath wrote, "Once we told them that their gifts would not have to be paid off for a year, seniors were for the most part very excited to contribute to the senior class gift."

Jones said the smallest donations were five dollars a year and that the largest donations were the special 1769 Associate Gifts, which are $695 over four years. The first pledge would appropriately be $95.

This year's senior gift drive began with a kick-off dinner on April 23, Whitworth said. He said the drive occurred over a two-week period from April 23 until May 8.

Whitworth said the keynote speaker for the kick-off dinner was Fran Fenn '37. Whitworth said Fenn was "fired up about the College" which helped to set the tone for the campaign.

Fenn also offered a challenge -- the Fenn Challenge. He gave two dollars for every pledge made in the first four days of the campaign, Whitworth said.

Whitworth said Fenn was the first person ever to get Charlie Collis '37, whose generous donations include the Collis Center, to contribute to Dartmouth. Fran and Mary Fenn have also been generous to the College over the years, Whitworth said.

Whitworth said tangible gifts such as trees, benches or the 1902 Room are usually given in memory of classmates who have passed away or as part of a reunion year drive or class capital campaign.

"The College is always going to need to be funded," Whitworth said. He said there could be a "1995 Room" in this senior class's future.

Senior Class President Alyse Kornfeld wrote in an electronic-mail message, "We are most likely going to wait until our class has more money and will then give a gift through the special projects committee of the senior executive committee."

Jones said the high number of students who participated in the drive speaks well for Dartmouth student satisfaction.

Jones said the project was a lot of fun. Most agents asked their friends for money, making the campaign a very social activity, he said.

"I got to know my class a lot better," Jones said. He said interacting with proud alumni gave him a lot of pride in the College.

McGrath also enjoyed working with her whole class. "I had a great time ... Working on a project with basically the whole class, including over 200 volunteers, was a lot of fun. We were really excited about the class spirit and about the rivalries between teams."

Jones and McGrath will be in charge of class donations for the next five years, Jones said.

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