Class of 1978 sets new donation record

by Emily Goodell | 10/10/07 12:28am

With a goal to raise $43 million in time for its 30th reunion, the Class of 1978 will set a new record in alumni giving and provide for the construction of a new life sciences building, which will be named in honor of the class. Approximately $3 million will be given to the Dartmouth College Fund for general use by the College.

"It's all about giving back to the college that has done so much for us," said Barbara Dau Southwell '78, a co-chair of the alumni giving committee. "We want Dartmouth to continue to be the best undergraduate experience in the country."

Steven Mandel '78, who was appointed as a charter trustees to the College's Board in June, will also chair the committee.

"Dartmouth has an established history of alumni giving," Southwell said, adding that for a milestone reunion like the 30th, people are often inclined to give a "stretch gift" to the College.

"We are very fortunate to have a group of classmates in the business world who have been very successful financially and are also very generous and enthusiastic," said Bill Daniel '78, another member of the alumni giving committee.

The two class agents, Daniel and Elissa Hylton '78, will coordinate efforts to reach members of the class by phone. Daniel said that his job is to "keep in touch with our old classmates" and encourage them to join in supporting the College when the time comes.

The Class of 1978 will also raise awareness about the project during the November festival, "Celebrating 35 years of Women at Dartmouth."

"There will be a very large turnout of women in the Class of 1978 and we can spread the word there," Southwell said.

Part of the new life sciences building will feature a memorial to the family of Bill Petit '78. Petit's wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and daughters Michaela and Hayley '11 were sexually assaulted and murdered in a home invasion last July.

"We hope this will be a source of inspiration and hopefully healing for Bill," Daniel said.

The life sciences building is part of a $1.3 billion initiative at Dartmouth which includes the new Kemeny mathematics building, the McLaughlin residential cluster and several other buildings.

"This is a major priority for Dartmouth and it is critically important for the quality of undergraduate education here that we move forward, and the Class of '78 has really stepped up," Dartmouth Vice President of development Carrie Pelzel said.

"The class has superb leadership," Pelzel said. "They are deeply committed to the College and to each other. They are a very generous class and many people have made donating to the college a priority."

About 51 percent of alumni give to the College and 56 percent of the Class of 1978 donated to the College for the class's 25th reunion, setting the current record for alumni giving.

The Class of 1978's record-breaking contribution for their 25th reunion also broke the all-time record for class giving at Princeton University.

"Princeton is our peer school," Southwell said. "We beat them [in donations] at our 25th reunion, and we want to beat them again at our 30th."

The Class of 1978 Life Sciences Building will replace Gilman Life Sciences laboratory on College Street. Construction is scheduled to begin this November, pending planning board approval. If the project proceeds without delay, the building will be open in March of 2010. The 174,500 square-foot building will contain classrooms, laboratories and biology department offices. The building will also contain a 200-seat auditorium, a 6,000-square-foot greenhouse, a two-story atrium and several innovations, including a storm water and energy management systems to conserve energy and resources.

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