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Seniors weigh options for class Legacy Fund options

Melissa Flanagan | Tuesday, November 9, 2010

After sifting through hundreds of suggestions from Notre Dame seniors, the final options for the Class of 2011 Legacy Fund focus on helping students who are in need of financial assistance.

Each year, the Student Development Committee (SDC) chooses a few ideas for the fund and the senior class votes on them and chooses where they would like their donations to go.

There are five choices this year, and the voting began about a week ago and will most likely extend until Wednesday, said SDC Co-Chairs Maggie Nettesheim and Maria Sellers.

“Something we definitely thought about a lot is that we wanted it to be something that would continue to make a difference on campus,” Nettesheim said. “We wanted it to be something that would improve life on campus and would continue to do so.”

This year’s choices focus on providing funds for students who are in need of financial aid for a variety of occasions.

The first option is a study abroad assistance fund. This program would be designed for students on financial aid who wish to go to abroad, Nettesheim said.

“If they choose to go abroad, it would give them a little more spending money,” Nettesheim said.

The second choice is a partial tuition scholarship for incoming freshmen each year.

Seniors’ third option is a stipend for students who would like to do summer service, but aren’t sure where their funds would come from.

“The summer service one would be a fund for those who want to do service, international or national, but they don’t have funds for where they’re living,” Sellers said.

Nettesheim said it would be particularly useful for students who do not feel they could give up a summer income, and it could apply to any service endeavor, even if it’s not through Notre Dame.

The fourth choice is an emergency assistance fund. This money could be used at the discretion of rectors in the event of an emergency, such as a death in the family of a student who is unable to cover the price of a plane ticket home.

The last option is a donation to RecSports, which would allow for the purchase of new uniforms or equipment.

SDC used multiple sources to gauge where the seniors wanted the fund to go to, including booths at senior events and an online poll. Nettesheim said this year’s senior class was very enthusiastic in contributing ideas.

“We got probably 200 suggestions from the senior class when we did the online poll,” Nettesheim said. “We in the committee then narrowed it down from those suggestions.”

The final outcome of the vote will most likely be announced in December.

Tim Ponisciak, the assistant director of the Annual Fund, said the Senior Legacy Fund can generate anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000.

Contributing to the Senior Legacy is the first step into the Annual Fund, which is a general fund that accepts donations to support “virtually everything under the Dome,” such as financial aid for students or advancing Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, according to its website.

“In the spring we’ll send out a letter and brochure telling them about the sponsored fund, but also telling them a little about the Annual Fund,” Ponisciak said.

Ponisciak said seniors are encouraged to contribute to the sponsored legacy fund, but they are also welcome to make a donation to any other fund at Notre Dame.

“For a senior to participate in the legacy they don’t have to give to the sponsored fund,”

Ponisciak said. “They can participate in another aspect of campus that they feel strongly about.”

Although it is targeted toward the current seniors, other members of the Notre Dame community can contribute to the legacy as well.

“Through the phone center, we call their parents to see if the parents want to give on their behalf,” Nettesheim said. “Also, that fund stays in existence. Any alumni really could donate.”

For Nettesheim, the Senior Legacy Fund is important because it gives seniors the opportunity to give back to the University that gave so much to them.

“I think most of us leave Notre Dame feeling like it’s been the best four years of our lives,” Nettesheim said. “And if you can get seniors exciting about giving back to the university and start that commitment early then I think that’s great.”