In a year when Rider University graduated its largest class ever, conferring 1,627 degrees at its three Commencement ceremonies, the Class of 2011 also established a new record for generosity through the Class Pride Gift campaigns at the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses. In total, $11,800 was raised, with 347 students from both Rider campuses participating. Those numbers surpass previous records of dollars raised ($8,103 in 1997) and donor participation (303 in 1986).
More than 300 seniors raised $9,400 for the Class Pride Gift campaign at Lawrenceville, representing an extraordinary 163 percent increase from last year’s total. At Westminster Choir College, 56 percent of the class participated, raising $1,200, which was subsequently matched, dollar-for-dollar, by an anonymous donor, for a total of $2,400.
The Class Pride Gift is a long-standing tradition in which graduating seniors unite to actively invest in the future of Rider by making their first gift back to the University. As part of the campaigns, students have the option of contributing toward the selected class gift, the Rider Fund/Westminster Fund or the Rider Scholarship Fund/Westminster Scholarship Fund.
“The whole point is to educate graduating seniors on the importance of giving back every year and showing their support for Rider,” explained Mary Workman, assistant director of Annual Giving.
Workman said this year’s campaign at Lawrenceville was widely successful for a number of reasons. Student “buy-in” was higher because they had voted for their class gift and in turn, felt more ownership to the campaign. In the fall, Lawrenceville seniors voted to support a new information kiosk for the front of the Bart Luedeke Center that will provide an easily visible communication resource for campus and student activity announcements.
“In addition to mailings and Phonathon, we also had strong peer-to-peer interaction,” Workman said. “Under the leadership of senior class president Briana Celano, senior volunteers promoted the class campaign to friends.”
Celano said the student volunteers also requested donations from family members of graduates and relied on word of mouth to build buzz about the campaign.
“This year’s graduating class was the largest Rider has seen,” she said. “There was never a doubt in my mind that my peers would not only reach every expectation, but exceed them.”
Meanwhile, graduating seniors on the Princeton campus voted to support a memorial garden and bench in honor of students who passed away while they were enrolled at Westminster Choir College. Kate Wadley, associate director of Annual Giving, said this was the first full year for a Class Pride Gift campaign at Westminster. The matching gift helped to complete the funding of the project, and was also used toward the senior banquet.
“Because of the matching gift, this class was really driven to succeed,” said Wadley, who applauded senior class president Derrick Goff for his leadership. “Participation was their main goal, and we hope this will encourage them to continue to remain engaged in the years to come.”
The bench was installed prior to the Westminster Commencement and Westminster Alumni Reunions, with a dedication ceremony held on May 13. This summer, a garden will be planted around the bench.
“The bench adds another reflective space on campus and helps us remember those who passed away,” Wadley explained. “This successful campaign sets the bar for other classes to reach.”