Senior class donates more than $50,000 to University

Members of the 2009 Senior Gift Committee presented a $53,333 check to the University’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday, half of which will be distributed to the campus initiatives of students’ choosing.

Alumni Alan Lafer and Laurie Lowe provided a dollar-for-dollar match of the student donations. Lowe and Lafer are the co-chairs of GW’s Luther Rice Society, an alumni association. The matching funds will support a textbook scholarship and a plaque in honor of the late Eddie Bieber, better known on campus as “Old Man Schenley.”

Before Lowe matched the donations, this year’s committee raised $24,803.50, compared to $14,177.55 last year, said Zach Briton, assistant director of young alumni and student giving. Last year’s senior gift went to the Spirit Fund.

Accepting the check on behalf of the board was vice chairman Nelson Carbonell. This year’s gift came from donations from 26 percent of the senior class and will support the groups of the students’ choice, including student aid, student organizations, academic programs and athletics, said David Anderson, chair of the Senior Gift Committee.

The committee plans to continue to collect donations until Commencement Day.

“There are even more events coming up this month,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to surpass 30 percent.”

This year’s campaign took a new approach with the introduction of gift designation. Donating seniors could decide where their gifts would go. The top designations went to student financial aid, Briton said.

“Three-fifths of students are on financial aid,” Briton said. “A lot of students are affected – it was kind of their way of paying back.”

Old Man Schenley died at age 96 in 2007, after living in the same apartment in The Schenley for more than 60 years. In nice weather, he could often be seen sitting shirtless outside the residence hall.

“We are one of the last classes to remember Old Man Schenley,” explained Melissa Meyer, a committee member. “He was a big fixture on campus.”

The tradition of a Senior Class Gift began in the ’90s to provide graduating students the opportunity to make “a lasting impression on the GW community,” according to a brochure distributed by the committee.

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