Penn State's Class of 2018 chooses three gifts

Alma Mater display, Student Farm endowment, and Textbook and Educational Resources Fund selected as the 2018 Class Gifts

The 2018 Class Gift Committee announced the three class gift selections on Oct. 18. Back row, from left: Darius Williams-McKenzie, director of communications, and Jessy Severino, director of events. Front row, from left: Kyra Rogan, director of student outreach; the Nittany Lion mascot; Lauren Nelson, executive director, and Alissa Janoski, class gift adviser. Not pictured are: Sean Monaghan, director of logistics, and Sydney Downham, director of fundraising. Credit: Laura Waldhier / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s class of 2018 is returning to an old tradition of selecting multiple areas of the University to benefit from their support. The 2018 Class Gift Committee revealed the gifts during a campaign event held today (Oct. 18) on the ground floor of the HUB-Robeson Center.

“With the tradition of class gifts beginning in 1861, the class gift campaign has been dedicated to providing an outlet for current students to recognize an area of potential growth for the University and giving back so that future students may benefit, for over 156 years,” said senior Lauren Nelson, executive director for the 2018 Class Gift Campaign.

Nelson went on to announce the three 2018 class gifts: a display of the Alma Mater in the HUB-Robeson Center; an endowment to support the Student Farm; and support for the Textbook and Educational Resources Fund.

“Each of these gifts encompasses Penn State’s values — those being integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence and community,” she said.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations O. Richard Bundy III accepted the gifts on behalf of the University.

“With the three gifts that you have chosen, the Class of 2018 will both provide critical funding for important Penn State programs and leave a tangible imprint on our campus,” said Bundy at the event. “Your endowed support for the Student Farm will help to grow an organization that is enabling Penn Staters to put their passion for sustainability into action. Your gift to the Textbook and Educational Resources Fund will help to ensure that all Penn Staters have access to the textbooks they need. And with the HUB Alma Mater display, you will create a physical testament to your Penn State pride that you can return to as alumni for years to come.

“In selecting these three gifts, you have shown a level of passion, creativity, and pride that is an inspiring example for all of us,” Bundy added. “I hope these three gifts encourage broad participation among your peers.”

The selection of more than one gift is not unheard of in the history of class gifts at Penn State. It was fairly routine for graduating classes to select multiple beneficiaries as recently as 2008, but it was more common in the 1970s and 80s. Alissa Janoski, assistant director of Annual Giving and class gift campaign adviser, stated, “I think the decision to return to the tradition of multiple gifts acknowledges something that class gift committees have heard in the past — that students have diverse interests and want to have choices for where their money goes.”

With a variety of options for seniors to support with their gifts, the message is very clear that participation is what is important to the class of 2018.

“In this way, the legacy of the class of 2018 will be one of encouraging every senior to make a gift to the area of Penn State that has been important or meaningful to their experience,” said Janoski.

The HUB Alma Mater display will be located in the HUB-Robeson Center, and will be designed through a public call for proposals. The final commissioned piece will reflect the amount raised by the senior class. “The Alma Mater is an important part of our history as a University, but the scope of what our class will be able to accomplish will truly depend on the money my classmates give to support this effort,” said Nelson.

The Student Farm at Penn State is a relatively new organization that allows students to run a community farm. In addition to being a valuable academic tool for agriculture students, the farm provides fresh produce to local food pantries and academic areas alike.

“There is so much potential for growth at the student farm and we can ensure that, as a class gift, it will continue to grow and flourish and build new connections with other areas of campus,” said Sydney Downham, director of fundraising for the 2018 class gift and member of the student farm. “Endowments require significant giving upfront, but the long-term impact is going to be immeasurable. We have already started looking at ways to build on the success of the 2017 class gift supporting Lion’s Pantry and how these two gifts may benefit each other.”

The Textbook and Educational Resources Fund is an existing Penn State University Libraries endowment which provides textbooks and other educational resources on reserve for courses across all campuses within the Penn State system. “We all know the cost of textbooks and other course materials. Providing additional support to the existing textbook fund will allow more students to have the materials they need to be successful in the classroom. Literally every student can benefit from this gift,” said Kyra Rogan, student outreach director for the 2018 Class Gift.

“We are also excited to see the senior class select a gift that is not only supporting students at University Park. Resources benefit students across the Commonwealth, and so we hope we can work with students across the Penn State system to raise money for this initiative,” continued Rogan.

Members of the Class Gift Campaign will be soliciting gifts through events, emails and phone calls to students graduating in May, August or December 2018. Seniors also can make a gift at online.

Last Updated October 25, 2018