By Ashley Ford—
A new tradition is upon Tarleton State University, and that’s the Day of Giving, which is only one of the three days of the Week of Service. The Day of Giving, unlike Tarleton’s Day of Service, focuses specifically on the students. Donors will have choice of where their money goes— to any department, organization, any division of student life, academics, etc.
The Week of Service will kick off on April 2 with Round-Up, where Tarleton students and the community come together to serve the Stephenville community. On April 7, all students will be excused from class to take part in the Day of Service. Each department will take part in a project during the day to serve in a scholarly way. Various projects are available on TexanSync to sign up for.
Cori Brown, development and alumni engagement officer and annual giving, said, “We really want to bring everyone together to create more opportunities for the current generation that is here and student body that is here and more future generations to come. Being that this is the first one, we probably won’t see the true impact for this day in years to come. The bigger it gets and the more people to participate, we hope that the culture of philanthropy kicks off. It’s really about giving back to our students and making sure scholarships are always there and academic opportunities.”
On April 5, Tarleton hopes the community will abide by the slogan of the Day of Giving, “pay it forward for our students.” This day is for donating towards activities, events and other things that students benefit from. Donations can be unrestricted, which Dr. Mike Leese, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, said are sometimes the best, because you never know what is going to come up that needs funding. On the other hand, donations can be restricted, which means that donors can decide where their money is going. Donors can give to a philanthropy, the student circle or the academic circle.
A table and laptops will be available between the student center and dining hall where people can donate on the Day of Giving. Brown will provide piggy banks, and students can write their organization’s name on it to set on the tables where donations are being taken.
Brown said the goal is participation, not a dollar amount.
“I know it can be kind of intimidating for a student when we ask them to give back, and we want to make sure anybody knows that, no matter how big or small the gift is, it’s going to make a difference,” said Brown.
The Student Life Circle is explicitly for student life activities, scholarships and allows Tarleton to engage with the community. Those who have made donations at special levels to the student circle have their name on the donor board in the Thompson Student Center.
One of the activities Leese mentioned that is hoping to get donations is Duck Camp. Duck Camp just met the $10,000 mark to earn an endowed scholarship. There are a few scholarships for Duck Camp now, but not enough, according to Leese.
“And our goal eventually, quite honestly is that we would love to endow Duck Camp, and the president would love for us to be able to make it to where students wouldn’t have to pay to go,” said Leese.
Leese added that he hopes possibly one day, Duck Camp can be closer to Stephenville to eliminate long distance travel.
Another thing that donations could go towards is Student Government Association (SGA) to support the school in many ways. SGA provides travel money for organizations but is limited to only $500 per request. With donations to the student circle, SGA could offer more money to organizations for travel and other needs.
SGA is also creating a scholarship in honor of Zach Shaver, a student who died after suffering a head injury; donations could further fund this scholarship.
One project that has been discussed between Leese and a rodeo alumnus is to put a roof on the rodeo arena in the future. Rodeo is under Student Life, which could receive funding from donations in the student circle.
Leese said the donations made to the Student Life Circle go a long way to benefit students who are enrolled now and in the future.
The other donation circle that benefits students is the Academic Circle, which encourages more scholarships and investments in programs.
Dr. Karen Murray, Associate Professor, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, said that only departments that respond to the development office for “special needs for one-time funding” will be awarded funding through the donations in the Academic Circle.
“Funds are allocated based on prioritizing the requests above,” said Murray. “The dollar amounts are specific by the requesting unit. Priorities are given to those that impact student success, provide additional experiential learning opportunities (like study abroad) and those that provide unique opportunities for faculty or students/student groups.”
According to Murray, the academic circle funds about half of the Honor’s College Scholarships and funds individual study abroad trips, sending the band to Carnegie Hall, choir to Japan and Carnegie Hall, Jazz Band to Italy and other “unique faculty development opportunities.”
“These funds are used to provide opportunities for students to travel or participate in high impact and experiential learning opportunities that are typically transformative and life changing experiences,” said Murray.