Tag Day highlights significance of donor support on campus
By John Brhel
Imagine Harpur College without a graphic design lab, the Student-Athlete Success Center without laptops or the School of Management without the high-tech Zurack Trading Room. While you're at it, remove several dozen works of art from the University Art Museum and toss out a bunch of books from Bartle Library. The truth is, many of the bar-raising facilities and opportunities at Binghamton University wouldn't exist without the generosity of private donors, a fact which several campus groups hoped to make abundantly clear with a new awareness-raising event.
"So much of what donors give you can't immediately see, and they have a really big impact on the campus experience for students, faculty, staff and the community," said Caitlyn Carlson, director of the Binghamton Fund.
Carlson, along with members of the Binghamton University Student Philanthropy Committee, the Binghamton Fund, the Binghamton University Alumni Association and the Division of Student Affairs, organized Tag Day − a campus-wide event designed to engage and educate students, faculty and staff about the importance of giving back. The event took place Thursday, Feb. 27, to coincide with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education's Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day.
Approximately 500 big, green tags were placed across campus − from the Art Museum to the Decker School of Nursing, and everywhere in-between − to denote buildings, classroom spaces and equipment made possible via donor support.
"So much has been made possible because of donor gifts on this campus and, honestly, 500 tags will only be scratching the surface," said Carlson.
In addition to the tags, students, faculty and staff wore buttons indicating "I Give Back" for donors or "I Benefit" for those who wished to show the impact donor gifts have had on their University experience.
According to the Binghamton University Foundation's 2013 Annual Report, the University received more than $13.5 million in donations in the 2012-13 fiscal year. These donations, said Carlson, help pay for things that tuition and state funding can't.
"A lot of students might not know that tuition and state funding don't cover everything that makes their University experience what it is," she said. "There's a gap between state funding and what tuition covers, and what makes up that gap is private support from generous donors, whether it's through the Binghamton Fund, the annual giving program, larger endowments or gifts in-kind. When new buildings are built, state funds pay for the actual cost of construction, but not for the furnishings needed to bring those spaces to life."
With other campuses around the country hosting similar events, Carlson thought it would be good to highlight the plethora of donations right here at Binghamton. She hoped that students saw just how much is made possible via donations, and will one day be inspired to donate to the University themselves.
"When somebody decides to make a gift, it's a very personal choice, and I think that choosing to give back to your alma mater or your soon-to-be alma mater is a vote of confidence in the institution that you came from," she said.
Andrew Loso '15 and Dillon Schade '16 have already cast that vote of confidence. As co-chairs of the newly formed Student Philanthropy Committee, they helped get the word out about Tag Day, driving home the importance of philanthropy to their peers.
"It really shows students and makes them aware that their campus is already enriched by the goodwill of alumni and of philanthropists," said Loso. "A lot of students aren't necessarily aware of how philanthropic efforts sustain them. It's important to begin to advocate for that."
Schade hopes that Tag Day, along with other fundraising events, will help build a culture of philanthropy on campus.
"A lot of it is trying to build a culture at Binghamton of philanthropy and giving back," said Schade. "What better way to start it than showing that philanthropy has given us so much that we just take for granted every day?"
Carlson hopes that these efforts will inspire others to donate to the University. She noted that without donations, the University wouldn't be what it is today.
"I think it'd be a lot more challenging for us to become the premiere University that we want to be," she said. "Donor gifts really give us that edge and have made it a lot more possible for us as a public university."
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