Philanthropy Friday: The Priems Inspire Student Giving
WPI trustee emeritus Win Priem ‘59 and his wife, Susan, have inspired WPI students to give back to their alma mater by sponsoring the Senior Class Gift Challenge every year since 2002. The Priems recently made a $1 million commitment to WPI, endowing the Senior Gift Challenge and ensuring it will continue in perpetuity.
The Senior Class Gift tradition dates back to 1910; it has marked the campus and the WPI community with physical legacies (our beloved Proud Goat and Charging Goat statues from the Classes of 2009 and 2013, respectively, and the beech tree from the Class of 1943) and non-physical gifts such as scholarships and program support.
By the early 2000s, giving by the graduating seniors began to decline, and Win Priem, by then a WPI trustee, took notice. At the time, he learned that another area college’s senior class gift was more than $10,000—and at WPI the total had not even broken $1,000. Priem believed that 700 graduates going on to successful careers thanks to their WPI education could do better by their alma mater. He decided to provide some inspiration and started the Senior Class Gift Challenge.
“We need these great young people to continue supporting WPI after they graduate to pursue their career goals so that future generations will have the same opportunities.” - Win Priem '59
In 2002 Win, former president and CEO of the world’s largest executive placement firm Korn Ferry, and Susan offered to match up to $15,000 raised for the Senior Class Gift—if at least 40 percent of graduating students participated in giving. Since then students have been inspired year after year, successfully meeting the challenge and adding the Priems’ generous matching funds to their Senior Class Gift totals. In recent years students have stepped up to meet an even tougher challenge from the Priems: 40 percent participation from the graduating class and $10,000 raised.
The Susan S. and Windle B. Priem ’59 Endowment raises the stakes a little higher. To achieve the matching funds, the graduating class will now need to reach 40 percent participation and raise $15,000. This generous contribution from the Priems, and the inspiration it provides to students and young alumni, comes as WPI is in the leadership phase of its next major fundraising campaign.
“WPI taught me a disciplined approach of thinking that has helped me through the years and throughout my career, more so than my education at Harvard Business School and Babson,” Priem says. “We need these great young people to continue supporting WPI after they graduate to pursue their career goals so that future generations will have the same opportunities.”
– By Judith Jaeger
This is the first of an occasional series in the Herd where we learn more about some of WPI’s friends, donors, and supporters.