The Class Gift Committee opened proposals earlier this month for the Class of 2018 class gift, along with this announcing the Class of 2018 will break tradition to donate three gifts rather than one.
“Class gift has been going through a transition in recent years,” Class Gift Executive Director Lauren Nelson explained. All students are required to make a deposit to enroll at Penn State before their freshman year — you probably remember paying a few hundred dollars to accept your offer of admission.
Previously, this deposit would be held until the student’s senior year, when seniors could choose to have the deposit returned to them or to donate the deposit to their class gift fund. Now, with the transition to LionPATH, this deposit is rolled into the student’s first-semester tuition, so there’s no remaining balance at the end of senior year.
That being said, this year’s committee hopes offering three options will encourage more seniors to donate, as they’re more likely to feel a strong connection to at least one of the choices.
“Participation isn’t based on one singular gift,” Nelson said. “We really want [students]to feel that they are making an impact on Penn State where they choose to make that impact — whether that be one of the three gifts that are chosen or whether they choose to make a donation to support and organization that they’re a part of in honor of graduating, or their specific college or major.”
Any member of the Penn State community is able to submit proposals for this year’s class gift — not just seniors. In a normal class gift cycle, the class gift committee would select three final options, which seniors would then vote on to choose their class gift. This year, the committee will narrow down proposals to six options for seniors to vote on, ultimately selecting the three class gifts.
Class Gift advisor Alissa Janoski said the committee normally receives a couple hundred proposals, but the committee hopes to receive even more proposals this year since there will be more gifts selected.
“We felt that three was a good number…in the sense that it gives a broader view of Penn State, whether that be a cause-related gift like CAPS or Lion’s Pantry or a physical contribution to the university like the 2011 Veterans’ Memorial,” Nelson said. “Three was a good number for what we thought we could logistically accomplish as well as giving a holistic view of what students are passionate about at Penn State.”
Whereas in the past all class gift donations have gone to support one cause or gift, this year’s overall donation could be split into three sectors. However, the committee isn’t concerned about how the lack of centralized funding could affect the class gift’s ultimate impact.
“I’m not concerned about the monetary contributions if that means more students are willing to participate in the gift,” Nelson said.
It’s not set in stone yet whether this system will continue after the Class of 2018, but the class gift committee hopes the three-gift system is successful. The committee is also discussing the possibility of a senior survey to assess how seniors feel about the new system and better determine what direction to continue with future class gifts.
“As a committee, we’re hopeful that it’s successful and that we can ensure it will be successful,” Nelson said. “But we want to consider how successful it is as the year goes on.”