Senior gift heads into a new era

This year’s senior gift will mark the official inception of the Senior Class Triton Fund, which will provide scholarships and extracurricular programming for years to come.

The gift itself is simple. Half of the donations will go toward scholarships for two students: one transfer student and one sophomore continuing student, according to the Senior Gift Campaign Web site,

The other half of the donations will contribute to future freshman programming in an attempt to improve residential life on campus.

What is unique about this gift is the underlying endowment fund.

“”This is a formative year,”” said Vice-Chairperson of the Senior Gift Campaign Committee and Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore David Goodwin. “”Over the next few years, we hope to accumulate somewhere around $30,000 that we could leave in the [endowment] fund and be able to get interest from.””

After attaining this goal, the interest earned by the permanent senior gift account will supplement the monetary donations of future senior classes.

“”In the past, the senior gift was planned by any random senior who approached the Annual Giving people,”” according to Chairperson of the senior gift Campaign Committee and Revelle College sophomore Melissa Tsang. “”Usually, the gift was not decided until the beginning of spring quarter, which is pretty late.””

In years past, there were few occasions when no one came forward to shoulder the responsibility, Tsang said. The most recent example of this is the absence of a senior gift from the class of 1997.

Past gifts were often tangible objects that were useful, but mostly went unnoticed. For example, in 1992 and 1993, the gifts were recycling receptacles.

“”That doesn’t give any sense of continuity, which is something we really need, given the general lack of philanthropic spirit on this campus,”” Goodwin said.

As a response to these problems, last year the Annual Giving Office of UCSD approached the Student Foundation to form a committee that would direct the planning of the senior gift. The group includes members of the Student Foundation, A.S. Council officers and the senior senators of the five colleges. Two members of Annual Giving also assist the student group. This is the second year that the Senior Gift Campaign Committee has convened.

Last year’s gift was a pair of scholarships given to a transfer student and a continuing student.

“”[Last year] was a really successful year,”” Tsang said. “”I think it was a gift people were actually interested in being a part of, for once. We raised a record high of over $9,000, which nearly doubles the average of past years.””

Many of the same people from last year’s committee served this year as well. According to Tsang, the Annual Giving Office and the Student Foundation agreed that the first few committees should include underclassmen who could maintain the position and provide continuing leadership.

It was this past experience that led to the formation of the endowment fund.

“”We wanted to create a set, instituted gift for future committees to implement,”” Tsang said. “”It’s been a problem in the past where the committee spent most of it’s time just deciding on the gift [and not planning it].””

This year’s senior gift is still growing. Tsang said that graduating seniors and their families have already pledged about $4,000. Booths will be set up at the commencement ceremonies and flyers will be distributed. However, donating via the campaign Web site is the most direct way.

“”This is the one chance the seniors have to come together as a group — not just in their individual colleges — to give back to the UCSD community,”” Tsang said.

“”I am certain that everyone has been touched by their experience here in one way or another and this a way to give back, to leave a legacy of philanthropy.””