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Seniors weigh choices for graduation gift to University

Becky Hogan | Tuesday, February 20, 2007

As the class of 2007 finishes up one last semester, it plans to leave behind a reminder of its legacy at Notre Dame. With the help of the Notre Dame Annual Fund, the senior class will choose a class gift to give something back to the University.

Last Wednesday marked the last day seniors could vote on the class gift from the three options selected by the Senior Class Gift Committee. The money raised by the committee will either be given to the Erasmus Institute Endowment, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) or Student Activities. Seniors were able to vote from the three different options by e-mailing the Annual Fund’s e-mail address.

The gift from the class of 2007 will be donated in memory of Caitlin Brann, a member of the class of 2007 who died in November 2006.

“In the Committee’s first meeting, a few members asked me if the gift could be made in memory of Caitlin,” said Moira Madden, assistant director of the Notre Dame Annual Fund. “After some discussion, all of the committee members agreed unanimously that regardless of the allocation that the class voted to support, the gift would be made in memory of Caitlin Brann. Past Senior Class Gifts have also been made in memory of classmates who passed away before the class graduated.”

The committee is comprised of 10 seniors, Madden said.

“In past years, the Annual Fund has worked with the senior class council,” she said. “However, this year we decided to expand the program and created the Senior Class Gift Committee. Some of the senior class council members are members of the Senior Class Gift Committee as well.”

Senior Class Council chair Stephanie Pelligra said the fact that the gift will be donated in Caitlin Brann’s name adds to the significance of the gift.

“At one of our first meetings it was decided across the board … that the gift should be given in Caitlin’s name because she passed away during our senior year and this affected a lot of people in our class,” Pelligra said. “The fact that it [will be] in Caitlin’s name makes it even more special since it was a traumatic loss for our class.”

Committee chairman Rosie DePaoli said the Senior Class Gift Committee held its first meeting before Christmas break in December and has been meeting as a group once a month.

According to the Notre Dame Annual Fund’s Web site, the University appreciates “contributions which are not designed for a specific project but can be used to address the University’s most pressing needs.”

Madden said although the Senior Class Gift is usually a monetary gift to a University department or program, it may sometimes be a physical gift as in the case of the class of 2002, which donated the “Jesus the Teacher” statue located near the Bookstore.

“Any of the three gifts would really be great for our class,” Pelligra said. “Those are the three that most represent our class. I think the UROP gift would be great because so many members of our class have studied abroad or have taken part in research opportunities.”

Although there is no deadline for the gift, there are some incentives for seniors to fulfill their pledges before the end of the year. If seniors make their contributions before May 1, they receive a “token of appreciation” from the Annual Fund. Also, seniors can be entered in the 2008 football ticket lottery if their gifts are received before Dec. 31.

“I think [the lottery] will generate a big response because alumni love to come back for ND football Saturdays and partake in all the traditions associated with them,” DePaoli said. “As soon-to-be young alumni, it is one of the best excuses to come back for a weekend and meet up with friends.”

Contributions to the Class of 2007 Gift can be made online at supporting.nd.edu or can be submitted by check or credit card. Seniors who live on-campus can donate their $50 dorm room deposits – an option which Madden said is widely used by graduating seniors.

“From what I’ve heard a lot of people do plan on donating because it is in Caitlin’s name and it’s a really great thing to do to give back to the University,” Pelligra said.

The final decision on the Senior Class Gift will be announced Feb. 28 in LaFortune’s Sorin Room at the “Thanksgiving in February” event from noon to 7 p.m.

“I think that most people see [the class gift] as great way to create our own legacy as a class of Notre Dame – leaving a tangible mark that we can carry on in the coming years and that will benefit many Domers in the future,” Depaoli said.