Event aimed at students celebrates philanthropy and donors
March 04, 2010
Associate Director of Annual Giving Flavia Arsenault B.A. ’05 is spearheading Tuition Freedom Day, an event designed to raise awareness among students about the important role of philanthropy on campus. Flavia sat down with The Source to talk about the day and how her own connection to the college is helping shape this educational campaign.
Can you explain the basic concept of Tuition Freedom Day?
Tuition Freedom Day marks the day on which students’ tuition “runs out.” Let me explain that a bit more. Some students are surprised to learn that tuition doesn’t actually cover the full cost of a Lewis & Clark education—it only covers about 70%. You’re probably wondering where the other 30% comes from. In part, it is covered by income from the endowment as well as generous gifts from donors, like alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and foundations. So, 70% of the way through the academic year, we celebrate the donors who help fill the gap. (Otherwise, tuition would be much, much more expensive than it is).
Other colleges also celebrate Tuition Freedom Day. Can you tell us why it’s an important concept here at Lewis & Clark?
You’re right, Tuition Freedom Day is a popular event at colleges around the country. This kind of education campaign is very important for private colleges like ours for a couple of reasons—the most important being to raise awareness about the tremendous contributions our alumni make on behalf of current students. They make critical things happen at the college—like scholarships, endowed professorships to attract top-notch faculty, and the buildings students learn and socialize in.
On a practical level, raising awareness about the value of philanthropy for students now will hopefully inspire them to see themselves as future stewards of the college. Strong stewardship from alumni reflects strong alumni satisfaction and foundations are more likely to make grants to institutions with high alumni-participation rates. Also, high alumni participation in giving means a higher ranking in publications like U.S. News and World Report. And that can only mean good things for current students, alumni, and the college as a whole.
How will Lewis & Clark celebrate the day?
On March 8, beginning at 10 a.m., we will staff two Voodoo Doughnut tables—one outside of J.R. Howard Hall (inside if it rains) and another outside of the entrance to the Bon. Each student who writes a brief thank you note to Lewis & Clark donors will receive a free doughnut. The thank you notes will be dispersed to donors so they can hear first-hand how their gifts are helping students.
Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a thank you video, which will be shown at special events for donors and played on our website. Donors love seeing students in action and hearing directly from them. This kind of experience inspires future giving, and that’s good for all of us!
You’ll also notice signs around campus explaining the impact and significance of giving at Lewis & Clark, like stats on the number of donors we have and how many millions of dollars we award in financial aid each year. Again, the goal here is to educate students about philanthropy.
What role will students play in the event?
Our student volunteers will staff the doughnut tables, so you’ll see them around with noticeable black “I heart LC” shirts. Ask them to explain Tuition Freedom Day to you, and of course, ask them for a doughnut!
One can imagine students saying, “I don’t feel free from a financial burden for my education.” How would you respond to that?
Tuition Freedom Day is a provocative title that we—and other schools—have used to capture the attention of students. We don’t mean to diminish the sacrifice that students and parents make in pursuit of an education. Ultimately, Tuition Freedom Day is symbolic. What we want to highlight is that the gifts and donations of others defray some of the costs of the educational opportunities we provide. And, those folks deserve our thanks for their support.
How can faculty and staff help support the campaign to raise awareness about the value of philanthropy?
There are several ways faculty and staff can raise awareness about this issue.
For one, reflect on your own experiences as a college student and faculty or staff member and how philanthropy has impacted you. Perhaps you received a scholarship, or, perhaps you were awarded a research grant. Whatever it was, think about how grateful you were to receive such generosity. And, please share your stories with your students. I hear from many alumni about how inspirational their professors were in encouraging them to give back to Lewis & Clark.
Please encourage your students to take part in the event on March 8. Not only will students feel good about thanking the donors who help make their education possible, but they will also have the information with which to make their own educated decisions about giving.
Finally, wear your I Heart LC button and show your Tuition Freedom Day pride. If you don’t have a button yet, let me know, and I’ll send you one (or ten) via campus mail.
Join the Tuition Freedom Day campaign on Facebook!