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Class of 2011 Sets Class Gift Record

Graduates just 355 donations shy of goal

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Photo by BU Photography

The Class of 2011 has earned a collective superlative for its yearbook: most generous class in BU history.

With 1,656 donors so far to the 2011 Class Gift campaign, the graduating class has set an all-time donor record. Participation is more than 200 percent higher this year than at the same time last year.

“Our senior class this year, I feel like we’re a really tight-knit community,” says Arthur Emma (CAS’11), president of the Student Union and a member of the student-run Class Gift committee. “And we’re all pretty passionate about BU.”

Each year, the Class Gift campaign gives graduating students a chance to support the University offices, programs, and projects of their choice. Individual gifts can be designated to a variety of program, including schools and colleges, student organizations, and athletic teams.

This year’s Class Gift committee set a participation goal of 2011 donors—an ambitious target, given that the Class of 2009 set the previous participation record with 1,004 donors. But, says Emma, “once it started going, and people realized that this could actually benefit our school, they started getting really motivated.”

Two unprecedented challenges are sweetening the pot for the Class of 2011. If the outgoing students hit their participation goal by Commencement Day, Sunday, May 22, Dean of Students Kenn Elmore has promised to don a tuxedo and throw himself into the Charles River. But students don’t have to wait that long. Because they are now so close to meeting the goal, Elmore (SED’87) says he will take the plunge immediately after Senior Breakfast, on Friday, May 6, if the final gifts come through by that morning. And if the class succeeds in sending the dean into the river, members of the Boston University Alumni Council will contribute their own $100,000 gift.

“We want to walk the walk and not just talk the talk,” says council member Mary Buletza (SMG’80). “So we decided to do a challenge. To make a commitment of $100,000 was putting an exclamation point after our statement that we hoped that the students would engage in supporting the University.”

Both Emma and Buletza are quick to point out another benefit of Class Gift participation: bolstering the strength of graduates’ new BU diplomas. The rate of alumni giving is one measure U.S. News & World Report uses to calculate its influential college rankings.

“By increasing our alumni giving percentage, we’re not necessarily making our degree better or more valuable,” says Buletza. “I think my degree’s a great degree whether we’re number 4 or number 400. But if by doing something as simple as increasing our alumni giving percentage, we can change the optics the rest of the world uses to value our degree, what’s wrong with that? It would sure feel a lot better if we were number four!”

To date, the Class of 2011 has donated more than $21,000 to its Class Gift. So far, graduating students have overwhelmingly directed their support to scholarships and to the BU Community Service Center.

Emma is confident that the students will reach their Class Gift goal. “We’ll definitely get there,” he says.

Buletza agrees. “I have full faith that they’re going to do it,” she says. “We look forward to writing out our checks.”

Ready to make your Class Gift? Want more information about the Class Gift program and how to participate? Stop by the Class Gift booth at the GSU, or visit www.bu.edu/seniors/class-gift.

Andrea Kennedy can be reached at andreak@bu.edu.

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