The Class of 2011 raised more than $77,000 for the Senior Class Gift campaign, almost a third of which will go to an emergency scholarship fund for students.
The seniors exceeded last year's class by almost $3,000, with a last-minute anonymous gift boosting the total by $13,000.
About $28,000 will go to the Ronald Howard Students Assistance Fund, an endowment fund established in 1997?to aid students who have emergency or other financial needs that cannot be met through traditional financial aid.
When seniors donate to the class gift, they are prompted to designate the funds to a specific area on campus, such as a student group or department. That total is matched by the Luther Rice Society, an alumni group, and is then given to an area on campus chosen by the graduating class at the beginning of their senior year. Sixty percent of the senior class selected the Ron Howard fund.
"This record comes as a result of previous years of donations and will hopefully feed into and inspire donations by future classes," senior class gift coordinator Eric Thibault said. He added that the Class of 2011 had a the highest-ever giving rate at 42 percent.
When he was a student, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Russell Ramsey respected Howard as a professor and expressed his gratitude for the senior class' choice.
"Ron Howard, I hope, will get a little bit of recognition for what a special ambassador he was for this University at all levels," Ramsey said. "Hopefully this class will take what I said, that they're all ambassadors of GW now, that is forever theirs."
Ramsey congratulated the Class of 2011 for having the highest participation level and raising the most money in the history of the University.
Students donated to academic departments, scholarship funds and campus organizations. Graduate Daniel Bandong, a dance major, chose to donate to the theater and dance department.
"Giving is a part of the culture [in that department]," he said. "I know they'll put the money to good use."
As he raised his glass for a toast, University President Steven Knapp said this year's seniors are his classmates, having started his tenure four years ago when the Class of 2011 began its freshman year.
"It's been a pleasure to know you, to work with you, to see you flourish, and you are now our gift to the world just as you have given a gift to us today," Knapp said.
Graduate Jillian Hubbard donated to the Racially and Ethnically Mixed Student Association, the organization she served as president for.
"I feel like GW has given so much back to me," Hubbard said. "I want to see it and Remix continue to grow."