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Interview
> > Senior class gift organizer Esther J. Last on fourth-years' efforts to bookmark their College years

image: Campus NewsThe tradition of the Senior Class Gift began soon after the University did. Several gifts from the earliest classes still adorn the campus, notably the "C" Bench from the Class of 1903. The custom continues, carried out by students on the Senior Class Gift Committee, working with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. One of the committee's seven members, events chair Esther J. Last, '00, discusses the Class of 2000's plans:

Selecting the gift
While classes have often given benches, clocks, and other concrete things, in recent years they've started giving discretionary funds. This year we wanted something different. We didn't want to be just giving money to the University--we wanted to know exactly what it would be used for. It took us till the end of winter quarter to narrow it down to two choices: a community-service scholarship or a book fund.

What the gift will do
The gift we chose--the senior class book fund--is for the purchase and upkeep of a contemporary-literature and media section for the Regenstein Library. The book fund was suggested by someone on the committee. We really liked the idea, because when you're trying to relax, and you want a reading book at the Reg, you can't find one. The library does have contemporary fiction, but not in the quantity or diversity that the Senior Class Gift Committee feels that it could. This fund will be used to purchase books and media, from the intellectual to the lighter side of contemporary fiction, that the Library would not otherwise be able to obtain. The fund will be endowed, so money will be released every year to buy 50 or so books. There's going to be a Web site where you can see what books are in the collection and make requests for new titles.

Giving incentives
An anonymous trustee will donate $25,000 if we get 60 percent of the class to participate. Last year the class raised nearly $8,000, so we're shooting to raise that on our own. We've designed book plates, and people who donate $2 or more will have their name in one of the books. You get to leave not only your class's mark, but also your own mark. We'll formally announce participation and fund-raising results at the fourth-years' annual Museum of Science and Industry Night on June 9. The library will start purchasing books in the fall.

Future alumni
Part of the appeal of the book fund is that any money we donate later, we can have funneled into the fund. It's something we can keep giving to. This gift certainly promotes giving--even if it's only $2, $10, $25, it makes a difference. It goes to something we saw being started and we want to continue. It's that mentality we're trying to develop among seniors. We want to get people into the mood of, "Yeah, we're about to become University of Chicago alums." --B.B.


  AUGUST 2000
  > > Volume 92, Number 6


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