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Dean Elmore Takes the Plunge

Seniors break record for Class Gift donations


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In the video above, watch the intrepid Kenneth Elmore, dean of students and star of stage, er, water, and screen, make good on his pledge to brave the Charles in honor of the Class of 2011.

A brisk wind blew across the Charles River, forcing the BU crew launch Kenneth Elmore—clad in a BU swim cap, goggles, wet suit, tuxedo, and red patent leather Converse hightops—was standing on to drift to the side. The BU Band unleashed a drum roll. On the shore, hundreds of seniors chanted a countdown. And then, as promised, there was a splash, an ear-splitting cheer, and a very wet dean of students doing a leisurely backstroke toward the boat.

“It started with a Splash and ended with a splash,” says Sam Sklar (SMG’11) of his four years at BU. A broken foot and crutches couldn’t keep him from watching the dean’s stunt.

“It was an awesome way to end senior year,” says Lauren Sowder (SHA’11).

Elmore’s plunge into the Charles River on Friday was a grand public acknowledgment that the Class of 2011 had met a challenge calling for at least 2,011 seniors (more than half the class) to donate to the Class Gift campaign.

Their success shatters the past giving record, set by the Class of 2009, which had 1,004 donors.

Going in to the May 6 Senior Breakfast, the Class Gift campaign was just shy (by 103 donors) of its goal. Seniors pushed past that number by live texting to pledge in the future, with their donation amounts (and a few naughty messages—e.g., “Dirty Pirate Poker”) flashing on a projection screen behind the podium. His fate sealed, Elmore returned to the stage with a fluorescent green inner tube to announce he would indeed jump into the Charles.

Seniors’ donations will go to the offices, programs, and projects of their choice—their school or college, scholarships, a student group, or athletics. “When you tell them that they can give to their favorite sorority or activity,” Rowe says, “that really helps to inspire them to give.” The majority of donations will go to the Community Service Center, financial aid, or the donating seniors’ school or college.

Those who give at least $20.11 can choose a mentor who influenced them while at BU to receive a card and gift after Commencement, in June.

This year’s seniors gave more than $35,000 to the Class Gift, and the BU Alumni Council will add another $100,000 to that total, as promised if the challenge was met.

The gift will help BU, and it may also help the University in at least one other way: U.S. News & World Report looks at donor participation in determining rankings of top universities.

Operation Elmore Plunge was hardly an ad hoc affair. Weeks before Senior Breakfast, the dean met with University officials around a full conference table to talk strategy. University police were consulted on safety issues. FitRec and Athletics representatives discussed jump sites and wet suits. And Development officials updated the dean on senior giving and the likelihood the class would meet the 2,011-donor goal by Senior Breakfast.

The meeting was part planning, part slapstick humor. Elmore says everyone offered him advice: don’t swallow the water, get a tetanus shot, wear goggles and earplugs. He confides that professors and staff handed him cash to donate anonymously to the Class of 2011. He even received gag gifts from colleagues nationwide (swimmies and duck inner tubes) and fielded a request for the event to be live-streamed. (And it was, via iPhone.)

“I’m not the stodgy dean of students,” Elmore says of his reputation among colleagues at other universities. “Crazy Ken jumpin’ into the Charles River.”

Which begs the question, what will Crazy Ken do next year? Start thinking, Class of 2012.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday. Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at ciorogan@bu.edu.


7 Comments on Dean Elmore Takes the Plunge

  • Anonymous on 05.09.2011 at 7:14 am

    Dean Elmore is the MAN!! This guy is awesome from toe to toe. And, great work by the class of 2011. We will beat this though…go class of 2012!! The pain trains coming, baby..whoo whoo.

  • Anonymous on 05.09.2011 at 4:45 pm

    Next year...Bungee Jump or Skydive?

    If 2,012 people from the Class of 2012 donate, I think Dean Elmore should bungee jump from the top of Warren Towers.

    Or skydive from Marsh Chapel into the Charles?

  • Anonymous on 05.10.2011 at 12:35 pm

    Dean Elmore Rocks & Rules!!

    Dean Elmore never ceases to amaze me. His dedication, energy and commitment to the University and it’s students is unparralled. He Rocks and he Rules!! Kudos and thanks to Dean Elmore, an inspiration to us all!!

  • 2010 BU grad on 05.10.2011 at 2:03 pm

    Hang gliding or sky diving over BU

    The first two suggestions seem a bit dangerous…I’d say hang gliding from STU-V2 over the Charles would be pretty awesome or Sky Diving from the air into the Charles would be pretty amazing! Not to say those are much “safer.”

    Congrats 2010 team, “my real graduating class,” you guys were super creative and it was such fun to watch this video from a far.

    Have a great Graduation! Wish I could be there!

    -2010 BU Grad

  • anonymous on 03.11.2012 at 5:01 pm

    Nice job dean Elmore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! way to go!

  • Victor on 07.07.2012 at 1:07 am

    Thanks for the wonderful post

  • Calvin Walker on 09.06.2012 at 4:36 pm

    Dean Elmore has been showing this type of energy, creativity and commitment since we were classmates at Brown. BU is blessed to have him as Dean of Students.
    Great job Kenny!

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