Students and faculty gather in the global media lab with video equipment and a green screen behind them.

Senior Class Gift Committee Gets an Early Start

November 26, 2018
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The Senior Class Gift from the Class of 2019 won’t be presented until the strains of Pomp and Circumstance are lilting through the air, but fundraising  is well under way.

The Senior Class Gift Committee organized last spring to decide on what they were going to leave as their legacy on the Hill. As the newly opened Foisie Innovation Studio was taking shape, thoughts naturally turned to how the funds they would raise would make a lasting impact at WPI and connect directly to the student experience and project-based learning model.

(L-R) Tracy Baldelli, Rosie McCarthy, Lucas Mancinelli, and Steve McCauley.

Now seniors, committee co-chairs Rosie McCarthy and Lucas Mancinelli, say they are looking forward to the challenge of raising funds and are happy to be off to a good start.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 from the class with at least 50 percent participation,” says McCarthy, a mechanical engineering major. If they can do that, a trustee emeritus donor will give $15,000 toward their efforts. With their kick-off event (Goat’s Head Trivia Night) held in early October, over 150 participants had already donated well over $3,000. Part of the confidence driving their efforts is that they are both firmly committed to the reasons behind what they are doing.

“I give back to WPI because it has given me so much,” says McCarthy. Mancinelli, an aerospace major, agrees. “It’s our one big thing where we can push to make an impression,” he says. “It’s big to leave a lasting impression on our school. It’s our class and we will come back and see how they are using it.”

Student Gifts Make a Big Impact

Associate director of annual giving and senior class gift advisor Tracy Baldelli says watching the impact of senior class gift projects over the years has been inspiring. “From scholarships to launching a new Global Project Center with the Class of 2018, to this year’s gift of funding the new Global Lab and the first IQP team out of that space, the projects have been unbelievable, and truly aligning with the strategic direction of the university.”

Steve McCauley and Leslie Dodson, co-directors of the Global Lab, are thrilled with the gift designation. “We have had some discussions with class leaders, and we're thrilled that they recognize the potential of the Global Lab to open up new avenues for students to connect globally and to share their work through creative scholarship platforms,” says McCauley. “This generation of students is committed to making their work more visible and more accessible.”

Reaching the Whole Class

McCarthy and Mancinelli assembled a committee with intent, selecting students who are active on campus and know lots of people from various groups. But they are especially mindful of reaching the students who might not participate in clubs or social events on campus. “We want to reach out to those who are not represented by the people on our committee,” says Lucas. “That’s our big challenge.”

As the class goes through senior year, the committee members hope their classmates will begin to see not just the worthiness of donating to the class gift, but the larger picture of the donations being a part of WPI’s legacy of philanthropy.

“More often than not, this is our first philanthropic touchpoint with our student population,” says Baldelli, “and it’s a perfect stepping stone into their transition from students to alumni of WPI. Giving back is a huge tradition here at WPI, one that created this university, so to watch the students take part and have pride in giving back is incredible. I continually look forward to the relationships WPI will continue to have with our soon-to-be-alumni.”

A Yearlong Effort

The next big fundraising event will be WPI’s Giving Day on November 27, when committee members will table-sit in the Rubin Campus Center. Each donation level also brings the students a little WPI swag. A gift of $3 earns a drawstring logo bag; $20 a logo pint glass; $50 an invitation to the Reception at President Leshin’s home during Senior Week; and $100 a Young Alumni membership to the President’s Circle Giving Society and an invitation to a reception during Alumni Weekend. After that, the "100 Days ’til Graduation Day" brings another fundraising event.

The gift is something a lot of people can get behind and support, and may help future IQP teams. “We have been discussing with class leaders the possibility of initiating an IQP project center in the Global Lab,” says McCauley, “or in some similar way creating opportunities for students to work with faculty to use creative scholarship platforms to deepen our connections with partners around the world.”

The thought aligns with the hope the students have. “If they can launch an IQP team out of the Global Lab next year,” says McCarthy, “we can see the effect right away.”

- By Julia Quinn-Szcesuil