The increasing importance of student scholarships was a focal point at the 4th Annual Scholarship Donor Appreciation Luncheon on Monday.
Nearly 80 scholarship donors and more than 50 student recipients were among those attending the luncheon — spearheaded by The Campanile Foundation board member Betsy Manchester — at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.
“The purpose of this luncheon is to connect our thoughtful donors with the students who benefit from their scholarships,” said Ben Clay, a longtime San Diego State University supporter. “Look around this room today, and you see that going on.”
Last year, the university awarded 1,757 individual scholarships valued together at nearly $3 million. That was a 31 percent increase in number and 30 percent increase in amount from five years earlier. Final numbers are not yet available for the current academic year.
“Due to the length and the depth of what is now being called the Great Recession, many traditional sources of support – parents, states and the federal government – are limited,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “This makes philanthropic support even more critical.
“We are at a pivotal moment in the history of the university,” he said. “You see that success in this room. We have enjoyed great success and are poised to move to the next level in supporting students. And our economic challenges make private support for scholarships absolutely essential.”
Fuel Potential Campaign
The university’s campuswide fundraising effort, The Campaign for SDSU, has raised more than $43 million for scholarships and student support in its Fuel Potential effort. Kit Sickels, chair of The Campanile Foundation Board that oversees the $500 million campaign, told those at the luncheon that the overall campaign will reach the $350 million mark this week.
Provost Nancy Marlin said more attention is being placed on scholarships for international experiences – one of SDSU’s hallmarks — and on scholarships to recruit the San Diego area’s best and brightest students. The Ben and Nikki Clay Endowed Presidential Scholarship is one example.
"The success of tomorrow's leaders
will reflect today's support."
“We feel strongly — even passionately — about not letting our highest-achieving students get away from San Diego,” said Nikki Clay, who is on The Campanile Foundation Board. “So often, it turns out they don’t come back.”
From the students’ perspective, Anna Williams, a graduate Artist Diploma student, said scholarships gave the three musicians in the Neave Trio a home base and sense of community.
“As with any startup, you need that initial support to really thrive,” said Williams, who received the Fisch/Axelrod Student Artist Award Scholarship, the Diana J. Barliant Scholarship, and the Joseph Wright Johnson Memorial Scholarship.
Channelle McNutt is a senior double major in political science and communication, and executive vice president of Associated Students.
She said her Navy father’s unexpected transfer to Florida caused financial challenges last year as she juggled schoolwork, two part-time jobs and campus activities.
“These scholarships allowed me to focus on the things that matter most: my education, my family and my community,” said McNutt, who was awarded the Joseph and Patricia Ferrero Endowed Scholarship and President Day Scholarship.
“Thank you for your commitment to empowering the lives of others and contributing to the legacy of leadership,” she told scholarship donors. “Because of you, leadership truly does start here.”
Hirshman noted that “just as the success of today’s leaders reflects yesterday’s support, so the success of tomorrow’s leaders … will reflect today’s support.”
“I have full confidence that I will continue to give as much back to others, both inside and outside the SDSU community, because of the extreme generosity that was bestowed upon me,” said Anthony Rodriguez, a biology major and pre-med Honors Program student. He received the McNally Scholarship and has been an academic mentor at Casa Azteca.