Students take initiative, get involved in campaignBy Josh Schonwald
“This level of engagement and enthusiasm from our students is a huge boost to our efforts,” said Karen Alexander, Assistant Vice President of Communications for Development and Alumni Relations.
In its second public year, the Chicago Initiative, the University’s $2 billion, five-year capital campaign, now has the assistance of the newly formed Student Steering Committee of the Chicago Initiative, which comprises 16 graduate and undergraduate students. The committee already is making an impact.
The Student Steering Committee unveiled a photomural, titled “I Am the Future of Ideas,” at a special ceremony Wednesday, April 9, one day prior to the University’s Chicago Convenes event, which marked the one-year anniversary of the public launch of the capital campaign.
The photomural included images of more than 150 University students and was designed as a “way to engage students,” said committee co-chairman Jesse Ehrenfeld, a third-year medical student. The committee members made direct contact with more than 400 students when they began coordinating the creation of the mural. “It gave us a way to spread our message to students,” said Ehrenfeld. “We want them to know how the Chicago Initiative affects them and how it will directly influence what they experience at Chicago.”
But Ehrenfeld said that although financial aid, new residence halls, the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, the Interdivisional Research Building and other new facilities are the results of fund-raising, the Student Steering Committee’s message is not only about money.
“We want students to understand the importance of giving back to the University, whether it is financially or through service. Students can give back in a multitude of ways once they graduate, by helping Career and Placement Services with career advice, or by volunteering for the University.”
Another illustration of the increasing role students are playing in the University’s fund-raising activities is the decision by the Class of 2003 Gift Committee to use the class gift campaign to make an unrestricted gift to the College Fund, which the Class of 2002 also had done.
Joshua Jowers, a fourth-year concentrating in Law, Letters, and Society, said the decision, which was made last fall after a presentation from the Office of Development, was ultimately a practical one. “We felt that the best way of helping the College was to support the College Fund,” said Jowers.
According to John Boyer, Dean of the College, “the fund supports the College’s financial aid, internship and study abroad programs, as well as teaching in the college.”
“This affects, in some way, virtually everyone in the College,” said Jowers, who added that his two chief concerns are financial aid and the study abroad program. “I wouldn’t have been able to come to this school if it weren’t for financial aid, period,” he said. And Jowers had the opportunity to study in Paris last year. Like Ehrenfeld, Jowers said the Class of 2003 Gift Committee is measuring its success by the level of participation. “We know students don’t have a lot of money,” said Jowers. “We just want to get the message out to all of them, so they know how important this is.”
Jowers is aiming at 65 percent participation. For each percent of participation over 50 percent and up to 55 percent, alumnus Peter May has agreed to contribute an additional $1,000. “Even if we get $5 from a student, that’s great,” said Jowers.
The Class of 2003 Gift Committee, which kicked off its efforts last quarter, meets every two weeks and will continue its fund-raising efforts. “We’re not stopping until MSI night,” Jowers said, referring to an upcoming reception at the Museum of Science and Industry before the Class of 2003 has its Convocation.
“I’m very excited by the enthusiasm of the student leaders in both the class gift and the Chicago Initiative efforts,” said Bill Michel, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Associate Dean of the College. “It’s exciting to see students are increasingly interested in giving back to the University, whether it be monetarily, or as volunteers.”