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Making a Difference

A Student Bridge to Philanthropy

The Class of 2007 is building a bridge — literally — that links them with Rensselaer alumni through philanthropy. The graduating class traditionally gives back the balance of its Union treasury in the form of a class gift; previous classes have voted to fund campus improvements such as the clock on the Hassan Quad and the granite Rensselaer sign on the corner of 15th and Sage. The Class of 2007 has chosen to fund renovations to the footbridge over 15th Street.

In addition, for the first time in a number of years, class president Hannah Kim ’07 led a student effort to raise a gift of their own personal funds to emphasize the importance of annual giving to the Institute. Their gifts also count toward the $1.4 billion Renaissance at Rensselaer Campaign.

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“We wanted to find ways to get the message through to the current student body that we are Rensselaer, and we are part of its tradition and its future,” Kim says. “We wanted to let them know that philanthropy and giving back to the school is an important part of showing our pride.”

As a result, the Class of 2007, with Dennis Karamboulis ’07 as philanthropy chair, launched a fund-raising campaign that will become a model for future classes and serve as a foundation for student philanthropy. They began with a senior survey, and many suggested updating the 15th Street footbridge. A daily part of life on campus, students use the bridge to cross from the residence halls to the academic side of the campus.

“Every day that we crossed it, we came closer to becoming alumni,” Kim recalls.

In addition to the gift of their Union treasury funds, class leaders encouraged students to make a personal gift. As of this writing, the class has contributed nearly $13,000, and 109 gave at the student Patroon level of $100 — and their names will be inscribed on a plaque to be mounted on the bridge. Student Patroons also will be recognized as members of the new Annual Patroon Society. This society emphasizes the importance of annual giving, and acknowledges donors who provide the vital support Rensselaer counts on each year to support its students and its programs.

“The response to our student giving program has been beyond what we even dared to hope for,” Kim says. “The project really opened my eyes to the importance of giving back to the Institute, and investing in something that has already done so much for me.”

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.