Students to thank private donors in time of state budget crisis

Caroline Kimbro, Reporter

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As the West Virginia State Legislature continues to retract funds from higher education, the Marshall University Foundation prepares for its fifth annual Thank a Donor Days to foster relationships between Marshall students and private donors.

The event will take place in the Memorial Student Center plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and will include the opportunity for students to sign thank you cards, take pictures and record video messages for donors.

Krystle Davis, program director of scholarships and donor relations, said there is an increasing focus on private scholarship dollars as state funding diminishes and tuition costs increase.

“The more the budget gets cut, the more private donations are important,” Davis said. “I think state budgets are probably going to continue to decrease, so we’re going to need more and more alums to give back. It just reminds us of the importance [of these events].”

Sophomore Langley Sonnenberg noted private donors allow for more student initiatives and opportunities in the face of limited government funds.

“Honestly, I would not have come to Marshall if it weren’t for private donors,” Sonnenberg said. “Out-of-state tuition is out of my budget, so my scholarship that I received is a major factor in me being able to come to Marshall, and it was what drew me to Marshall in the first place.”

Sonnenberg also said she sees the value in student-donor relationships, as donors keep students accountable for taking advantage of well-funded education.

“Having them put their trust and support in us, it kind of gives us a sense of responsibility that we have to live up to what they’re expecting us to do,” Sonnenberg said.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation, said Thank a Donor Days are a great way for students to show their appreciation to the donors who fund their education.

“Over the last decade since I came to Marshall, I have been amazed not only at the generosity of our donors who support initiatives across the university, but at the graciousness of our students who have promised to pay forward the gifts of opportunity the donors have provided them,” Area said.

Davis stressed that Thank a Donor Days have an impact on donors, but also raise awareness among the student body about the opportunities donors provide for them.

“There’s lots of different things on campus that students benefit from,” Davis said, “so the event is just as much an opportunity for a student to give that energy back to say thank you, as much as it is an educational tool to educate the students and faculty and the staff on the opportunities they’re receiving because of the donors who made those donations.”

Davis said last year the Marshall University Foundation gave out more than $3.6 million in privately funded scholarships to over 1,200 different students.

Caroline Kimbro can be contacted at [email protected]

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