Today kicks off a weeklong Class Giving campaign for all University of Virginia Fourth-Year students. This is one of UVA’s many longstanding traditions, providing students with a valuable opportunity to give back to the University with a philanthropic gift as a way to express gratitude for the people and programs that have enriched their time here on Grounds.
At McIntire, we encourage a bit of friendly competition by creating a “Block Challenge” which is based on students’ third-year Integrated Core Experience (ICE) cohorts. Participation is the goal—and this year, I’m optimistic that the Class of 2021 will set a new record. I am particularly proud of this class—our 100th—and the resilience they have demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m also thankful for the energy, time, and dedication of the McIntire students who volunteered to lead the campaign as Class Giving Ambassadors.
These efforts have reminded me of my early experiences with philanthropy and the reasons why it can be a powerful practice to make a gift to a nonprofit or educational institution that you care deeply about.
Both of my parents were first-generation college students. My mother, one of 10 children, was the only one of her siblings to attend and graduate from college. She matriculated at North Carolina A&T State University on an ROTC scholarship and was a Nursing major. My father also attended A&T and paid for his education by working as a brick layer in the summer and doing odd jobs during the academic year. It was the education that my parents received that facilitated their socioeconomic mobility, and they rightly attribute their success to their undergraduate university.
Growing up, I saw them both give regularly to their church, high school and college alma maters, alumni associations, and a variety of civic organizations.
Now, as a family, we have established scholarships in my parents’ names at their alma mater and have all contributed to a legacy gift program there. I also contribute to an endowed scholarship named for my dissertation adviser and his wife at my alma mater, the University of Iowa. I started supporting this scholarship out of appreciation for how my time there had contributed to my professional life and how the faculty at Iowa supported me and continue to do so to this day.
Each time I make a gift, I feel inspired and encouraged. I know that I am helping to build the necessary foundation for the school to continue and improve upon its historic good work. As someone who manages academic budgets with margins driven by small increases in tuition dollars and larger increases in operating costs, I recognize that philanthropic support is essential to a school’s ability to continue operating at their current level, and with significant philanthropy, an institution is able to expand their reach and upgrade the student experience.
I am tremendously grateful for our loyal and generous network of alumni, parents, and friends who make financial contributions to McIntire; our continued excellence depends on their annual support. The collective impact of their generosity transforms the student experience, builds our research footprint, and keeps us operating at the top of our game—all of which stand to increase the enduring value of their McIntire degrees.
What I hope our Fourth-Year students glean from this week is that the size of their gift is far less important than the feeling they get when they give. Supporting McIntire through this campaign will amplify their individual and collective care and concern for the Comm School in ways that will only be experienced through giving. As their matriculation as undergraduates comes to an end and they transition into a most promising future, their gift will weave them even tighter into the fabric of this place that has become so familiar and meaningful.