Paying it forward
Rowan students support, and raise money for, University even before graduating.
Though many students don’t realize it, tuition does not fully cover the cost of their education – and state aid doesn’t cover the rest.
Charitable giving provides scholarship support to many Rowan students. Facing the reality of limited state aid and resisting the need to raise tuition, the university is reaching out to students and alumni to rekindle memories of their alma mater and stoke support.
The Phonathon is on
It’s a warm, still Tuesday evening and about 12 students are manning headsets in Alvin Shpeen Hall, reading from a script but ad-libbing as they make connections with alumni around the state and across the country.
Junior history major Bailey Gladysz started making calls for the flexible part-time wages as a sophomore but found she enjoyed the work so much that she came back to help run the program this year. The Phonathon spans the fall and spring semesters and, in a sense, doesn’t end.
For the spring semester alone the call team raised more than $80,000.
“People like hearing from us,” said Gladysz, 20, of Jackson. “We’ll go off script and just have a conversation. We tell them what’s happening on campus – Rowan Boulevard, the medical school – and they give us advice about getting a first job or applying to grad school. Then, at the end, they often want to help out.”
While any contribution may be made to a specific college or program, many go to the general fund to support scholarships and programs such as Rowan After Hours (which provides free, wholesome activities) and the Career and Academic Planning Center, which counsels students and alumni on choosing a major, finding a career path and leading a job search.
“As a student I take part in those things so it’s important to me to help keep them running,” Gladysz said.
Tuition and state support does not cover the full academic year at the university and that’s why contributions from alumni and friends are so critical.
Like Rowan, many colleges and universities are educating their students while on campus to understand the importance of philanthropy.
Kathy Rozanski, Rowan’s Director of Alumni Relations, said student contributions can be small, even a few dollars a year, but their donations instill a sense of ownership and pride in the university.
“A lot of seniors give their class year – this year $20.11 – and it adds up,” Rozanski said.
The university, which made headlines in 1992 when Henry and Betty Rowan pledged an unprecedented $100 million to the public institution, has long benefitted from private donors, big and small. In addition to the Rowans, the university has enjoyed generous gifts from donors like Thomas N. Bantivoglio, Ric Edelman ('80) and his wife Jean ('81), the family of businessman William G. Rohrer, Keith and Shirley Campbell, Mrs. and Dr. Marque Allen ('91), and, most recently, Dr. Michael Renzi.
“It’s the private gifts from alumni, friends and the corporate community that are so important to this university,” Rozanski said.
Leading the way
On May 2, Rozanski organized a program, the CASE Student Philanthropy Workshop, for higher education officials from nearly 20 colleges and universities to discuss strategies for increasing student involvement in fundraising.
Rowan has also begun a program to encourage undergraduate philanthropy called STAT – Students Today Alumni Tomorrow – that alumni officials hope will foster greater engagement and giving.
Mary Kay Long, Associate Vice President for University Advancement, said Rowan’s students have been exceptionally generous over the years not only with their wallets but their time. Students this year alone took part in food drives, Clean & Green outings to beautify the campus, even a Habitat for Humanity construction project in Clayton that provided housing for low-income families.
“Every philanthropic gift touches students in one way or another,” Long said. “It’s the participation that we’re trying to encourage and every dollar is important.”