I want to take a few minutes to talk with you about a very personal and important issue—financial support as a part of our continued commitment to Lehigh. Even as I write this, I can already see many of you shifting in your seats as you prepare yourself for a pitch to give money. Relax, this is more of a passionate plea for you to participate.
As with most things in life, stepping out, getting in the game, and being a part of it is 90 percent of the challenge. Just like any successful athletic team—and we are an excellent “alumni team”—each of us contributes according to his or her own ability. But regardless of the level of contribution, the act of participation is even more powerful. Let me explain why.
When colleges and universities are ranked, as U.S. News World and Report
does each year, our placement among our peers is in part determined by how many of our alumni give in that year. Princeton pulled off a top ranking with 60 percent of its alumni contributing to their annual fund. The runner-up was around a 50 percent alumni giving rate. So how close are we to the competition? Very close. We finished two years ago at number seven, with 39 percent participation, and we are still waiting to see where our 41 percent from last year will place us when this year’s rankings come out. Our goal this year is to reach 45 percent and then keep climbing higher to 50 percent… and then we set our sights on Princeton!
I have never worked hard at anything in my life to be second best, and there is no doubt in my mind that Lehigh alumni could rank number one in annual giving. But only if we all work together as a team to make it happen.
What is encouraging is that 75 percent of our fellow alumni have made a gift when you take a look at any five-year span. So all it would take for Lehigh to be number one is for all of us to make our gifts in the same year. And admit it, we would all
love to have bragging rights over the competition! Your participation now and in the months to come is critical to us achieving this status. Remember… it is the percentage of alums who participate more than the amount that you give. So I’m personally asking that you get in the game now before the end of our fiscal year on June 30 and do your part.
But it’s not really about beating the competition, as sweet as that may be. Lehigh is among the finest institutions in the world and we alums play a significant role in maintaining that excellence. By volunteering our time and our talents to Lehigh, we can make this a better place for generations of Lehigh students to come. We can do the same by making a financial contribution at whatever level is comfortable for each of us.
Participation—that’s what it all comes down to. Whether we are gathering for a freshman sendoff, attending a meet-and-greet to network employment and business opportunities, or cherishing memories and making new ones at reunions, it starts with being there. I’d ask that you pass on my words of hope for Lehigh to reach that number one position in alumni giving rankings. We can make the goal—but only if we strive for it together.
Chris Marshall '88