November 24, 2014

TRUSTEE VIEWPOINT: Making a Gift to Cornell

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In late August at New Student Convocation, it finally hit me that I would be graduating and leaving The Hill in just about nine months. So when I had the chance to speak to the Class of 2018, I said: “I cannot help but envy that you all are just beginning your college life. Though you’ve likely heard this hundreds of times before, the journey you are about to begin will be full of incredible experiences and opportunities. At a school like Cornell, the options are limitless.”

The opportunities that we, as seniors, have had throughout our time here are often made possible through the generous support from Cornell’s alumni and friends. Each year, Cornell seeks to raise over $30 million dollars towards the Cornell Annual Fund, which provides unrestricted current-use support for the administration to use towards the university’s strategic priorities. These funds go to initiatives such as faculty recruitment and retention, cutting-edge research, financial aid, new courses, student projects and maintenance of facilities. In fact, according to the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, “[The Annual Fund’s] impact is enormous. It would take more than $725 million of unrestricted endowment to generate the annual spending power of gifts to the Cornell Annual Fund.” Gifts to the annual fund are crucial to our University.

As seniors we have the unique opportunity to give back to Cornell. The 2015 Senior Class Campaign, which is being led by Morgan Miller ’15, Syed Ali Khan ’15 and the rest of the SCC steering committee, seeks to encourages seniors to give their first gift to Cornell prior to graduation. The Senior Class Campaign asks us to give a gift at whatever amount we can. Whether we give a five dollar dollar gift, a $25 dollar gift, a $100 dollar gift or more, it all adds up — no matter the amount. Every gift counts and we can give to the Annual Fund or to whichever part of the University means the most to us.

As a component of Annual Fund giving, we can designate our gifts to wherever the need is greatest, or support any of the schools or colleges, undergraduate scholarships, student life, the library, athletics and physical education. Beyond that, the Senior Class Campaign recognizes gifts to support practically any aspect of the Cornell experience that we are involved with or an experience or program we believe requires additional support. If you are in a club or student organization, you can designate that your gift be directed to that activity. If you are in a Cornell-owned fraternity or a sorority, you can designate that your gift to goes to your house. If you are a varsity athlete, you can designate your gift to go to your team.

As we begin the campaign this year, we have two challenges: First, we must beat the Class of 2014’s campaign totals, which stood at 47 percent participation with 1,537 donors. And second, once we surpass the Class of 2014’s, we will aim to reach 50 percent participation for our class. With the senior classes at Harvard and Yale reaching 78 percent and 96 percent, participation rates last year respectively, we should also aim to match and eventually surpass them — just as we beat Yale 3-2 at Lynah this past weekend.

This year, I’m supporting the Senior Class Campaign’s efforts by making a gift towards the Annual Fund for Undergraduate Student Aid. In providing support to Cornell — together — we can do our part to make college a bit more affordable for all students. I hope that you will join me in making a gift to our University. If you’re interested in getting involved further with the Senior Class Campaign, reach out to me, or to Corey Ryan Earle ’07, Associate Director for Student & Young Alumni Programs, at [email protected].

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Ross Gitlin is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the undergraduate student-elected trustee. He may be reached at [email protected]. Trustee Viewpoint appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.