When it comes to the university’s senior class gift, Julie Wilkins is more concerned about student participation than the total money received.
“We are looking for class participation, not a dollar amount,” said Wilkins, coordinator of student services. “It’s really about a stronger sense of class unity.”
Wilkins, who is the person in charge of organizing and collecting the senior class gift, said the idea for the class gift came from the Office of the Provost, with one of its goals being to educate current students on the impact of philanthropy.
The senior class gift is not a big present, Wilkins added. It’s the idea of encouraging students to give back and pay it forward to the school or program that impacted them most. She said the minimum donation is $1 and the average is $5.
Binh Nguyen, a junior strategic communications major and Temple Student Government’s former vice president of external affairs, said the class gift is derived from student philanthropy.
The senior class gift and the student philanthropy program are both part of the Institutional Advancement department.
Nguyen said that the class gift has been done in prior years, but this is the first year the university chose someone to handle it.
“Because they specifically hired a person to do this they’ve been getting more students involved,” she added. “And it’s not just seniors. That’s the really big thing.”
Other years’ class gifts have not been very successful, Nguyen said.
“It was kicked off this year because our rankings are so low in terms of people giving back charitable amounts,” She said. “We don’t have that type of tradition like a school like UPenn.”
The senior class gift lets students donate their money to nine different fund designations.
According to Temple’s website, donors can give to the Temple Fund, scholarships, research, student life, faculty support, Temple health, campus development, athletics and any of the schools, colleges, campuses or centers.
The athletics option has 19 varsity teams and the last option has 17 schools and colleges, and nine campuses across the globe including several specialty centers and services.
Nguyen said students can donate other than giving directly to a booth around campus—by giving online, by phone or through text messaging.
Both Wilkins and Nguyen said most people donate to the class gift by giving money to the Class of 2016 Scholarship Fund which gives money to underclassmen. There have been 219 graduating seniors who have contributed to the fund this year. According to the gift’s website, the university set a goal of 2,016 donors.
Wilkins added there are ways to get involved and contribute without spending money—there’s a volunteer task force that has three divisions: events, communications and liaisons.
Nguyen said there was a strong turnout of volunteers this year.
“I was so surprised. There were over 100 people in this task force,” she said. “And there’s a variety of people from different areas.”
Wilkins said most student participation comes from the School of Media and Communication, Fox School of Business and the College of Liberal Arts.
Wilkins added they try to set up their tables near the schools that see the least turnout. The senior class gift also had their tables set up at the Bell Tower in the past couple of weeks.
Officials that help collect the class gift have also held events throughout the year for this year’s seniors, Wilkins added.
One of these, Nguyen said, was when the Draught Horse recently hosted a senior night on April 25, where seniors got a free buffet and drink ticket.
Dominic Barone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dvito_barone.