Foundation seeks donations from faculty, students

Rachel Christian

CORRECTIONS: The lede to this story was originally attributed to Foundation President David Bower, but it was Associate Professor of Physics Kent Scheller who spoke about growing up relatively poor. Also, it is the original donor that will match faculty and staff donations exceeding $50.   

Associate Professor of Physics Kent Scheller grew up relatively poor, which is why he emphasizes the importance of “paying it forward” and helping disadvantaged students get through school with the help of scholarship funds from the university’s Capital Campaign.

“I didn’t have any financial help from my parents to get through school,” Scheller said during the fall faculty meeting Aug. 19.

It was announced that the campaign has raised $42.6 million in contributions, placing it one step closer to the university’s goal of $50 million.

“That’s why it’s important we meet this goal and help out the next generation of USI students,” Scheller said.

The money collected by the campaign will help fund a variety of things on campus, including study aboard opportunities.

Currently, 27 percent of faculty have contributed to the campaign, dubbed “Elevating Excellence.” The university has raised $15.9 million since the campain went public in April 2013. But Bower and others involved in the campaign said participation from faculty still has room for improvement.

Elevating Excellence is the second capital campaign in USI history. The first ran from 1995­ to 1998. At that time, 70 percent of the faculty participated, and the campaign exceeded its goal by $11 million.

Foundation President David Bower said the current campaign began shortly after Linda Bennett became president in 2009.

Contributing to the campaign is “an investment in USI’s future,” Bower said.

Donors make a commitment to pay the amount they donate over a five year period. The goal is to have all commitments by December 2015. The donor will match any faculty or staff member donation that exceeds $50.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Matthew Hanka thinks it’s important for faculty to contribute to the campaign if they can.

“Faculty ought to give back to the institution that’s giving them their livelihood,” Hanka said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask to donate just a little.”

Students will soon have the opportunity to donate to the university as well.

Clare Sheller, a junior public relations and marketing major and intern at the Foundation, started a student campaign called “All In For USI.”

Sheller said she felt it was important to start a student campaign because many students think their tuition helps pay for scholarships and other expenses on campus, which isn’t necessarily true.

“A lot of the things that get done on campus and that benefit students come from donations,” Sheller said. “And every little bit helps.”

Sheller said by contributing just $5, students can help support study aboard opportunities, new technology and lab equipment in the classrooms and more.

Sheller plans to unveil All In For USI at the student involvement fair Sept. 3.