Lerner 555 was bustling on the evening of January 28 as the Class of 2013 Senior Fund kicked off its campaign for its class gift, which will be presented to Dean James J. Valentini and the Columbia College Fund at Class Day on Tuesday, May 21.
The Senior Fund Executive Committee, along with almost 200 members of the Class of 2013 and several key alumni, gathered to generate excitement for their last semester and to encourage classmates to donate to the Senior Fund. Gifts were being taken on the spot and a raffle was held for all attendees.
Senior Fund Chair Maria Sulimirski CC ’13 opened the event, speaking enthusiastically about her time at the College and noting that the evening’s event was an “induction into giving.” She then introduced Valentini, who noted that among his “big Columbia events,” the kickoff to the Senior Fund was very important to him, ranking just below meeting his wife here and being asked to be dean.
As he did last year, Valentini presented his “3-2-1 Challenge,” which asks seniors to pledge to give $20.13 for three years, to encourage two friends to do the same and to have their gifts matched 1:1 by an alumnus. The dean announced that he would personally match all gifts made at the event, up to $5,440, noting “We all owe the College something.” He asked attendees to tell him why he chose that amount, with the hints being “James K. Polk,” the 11th President of the United States, and “Oregon.” The number comes from a historical slogan, “Fifty-four Forty or Fight!”, which is associated with a dispute between England and the United States over the border of Oregon, specifically the claim of the United States that Oregon be defined as everything south of the parallel 54º 40ꞌ.
Covering the “1” of the “3-2-1 Challenge,” Gene Davis CC ’75 will match all gifts to the Senior Fund. This is the second year that Davis has made this pledge. The Columbia College Fund, the umbrella fund for giving to the College, also will benefit if the Senior Fund is successful: Charles Santoro ’82 will donate $5,000 to the College Fund when the Senior Fund has 250 donors, another $20,000 at 500 donors and another $75,000 at 750 donors.
Gifts to the Senior Fund may be designated to support financial aid, the Core Curriculum, student internships, student services or the unrestricted fund, which support’s the dean’s highest priorities. The launch raised about $7,430, securing the dean’s match and placing the Senior Fund well on its way to its overall goal of $22,000.
The evening closed with a musical selection by a cappella group The Clefhangers while attendees continued to mingle and enjoy the artfully designed selection of “2013”-inscribed sweets.