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SXU's class of 2016 pays it forward to future students through class gift donations


Saint Xavier University's (SXU) class of 2016 has chosen to pay it forward to future students by making donations to the class gift. The mission of the class gift campaign is to promote a philanthropic spirit among the graduating class by providing the students an opportunity to start their legacy of giving to the University. By selecting and financing a particular area of campus – landmark, organization or school, seniors leave behind a bit of their own personality and take their first steps toward being proud alumni.

This year, 109 graduating seniors raised a total of $2,360.06 for the class gift, which will be matched ($4,720.12) by lifelong SXU supporters Jim and Trish Morris. The Morris' have been matching the class gift for over 15 years and truly appreciate the philanthropic efforts students make each year – upholding to SXU's Core Value of Service even as they embark on their alumni journey.

"Since so many of SXU students receive aid from the University, both my husband, Jim, and I believe it is important that they begin the habit of giving back as they are about to graduate," said Trish Morris. "The committee of seniors that work on the class gift strive to pick projects of relevance to the class. We support whatever project they choose. I am reminded of that relevance at each graduation when the lift is used to allow mobility challenged graduates to march across the stage just like their classmates. That was the class gift of 2009 – a real example of paying it forward!"

In the past, there have been specific initiatives that the students would donate towards, such as a walking path on campus and the Student Relief Fund. However, this year it was decided to allow students to give back to the areas of the University that they were passionate about enough to make a donation.

"If a student was very involved in athletics and wanted to give back to the team of their choice, they could do that; if a business student wanted to give back to support the Graham School, they could – it wasn't restrictive at all," said Brandon Swanson, assistant director of Alumni and Parent Relations. "This opened the door up to more participation by the students. In fact, we saw a 20% increase in students who donated this year in comparison to last year."

Donations towards the class gift initially started right before Grad Fest, which is the first of many events to kick-off the Commencement celebrations on campus. Students continued to donate all the way up to and even on the day of their graduation.

This year, students were able to receive an honorary tassel if they made a donation of at least $20.16, which corresponds to their graduation year. The honorary tassel incorporated two colors – gold, which represents generosity and maroon, which represents the Sisters of Mercy, founders of SXU. The implementation of the tassel served to represent the graduates who were willing to pay it forward so students would have the same opportunities or more in the future.

"By making a donation back to the University they are showing support for students that are coming after them, students whom they may never even see or speak to, but they support those students because someone supported them," said Swanson. "After all, that's what paying it forward is all about – supporting others because someone supported you. We ask for donations from students being fully aware of the financial burdens some of them may be under; the reason why they had the opportunity to go to SXU is because someone else who was under that same financial burden believed it was important to support students that came after them."

According to Swanson, next year the anticipated class gift donation goal would be around $2,500 prior to the matching conducted by Jim and Trish Morris.

For more information on how you can make a gift contribution to SXU, please visit the website.