Nov 092011
Authors: Elisabeth Willner

Mom used to remind them to write thank you notes for birthday gifts, but who reminds students to say “thanks” for the gift of education?

Members of Students Services, the CSU Presidential Ambassadors and the CSU Events Constituents Office, spent six hours on the Plaza Wednesday doing just that.

As students passed by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., they could stop and sign a thank you postcard to send to one of CSU’s 27,677 private donors as well as family members and scholarship organizations that have helped them pay for school.

“I’ve never thanked a donor until now,” said Casey Simpson, the philanthropy coordinator for the Presidential Ambassador Program, who helped hand out postcards at the event. “I never had an awareness of it. The fact that we’re spending a day on the Plaza will encourage others to be aware, too.”

Alumni, friends of the university and a very small number of current students all contributed to the $85 million in donations, which the university received in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Student tuition only covers one third of university costs, with private donations and the state of Colorado providing the rest.

But, with state funding currently dwindling, private donations are playing a more important role in the CSU budget.

“As [state funding] gets whittled away, we’re hoping private donations can fill the gap,” Simpson said.

Private donations through the campaign helped establish 418 new scholarships and 14 new faculty positions, as well as funded the building and renovation of university facilities.

According to Simpson, all students benefit from private donations, even though many don’t realize it.

“People don’t really think they’re recipients of private donations,” Simpson said. “Even though you’re not getting a scholarship, you’re getting taught by those professors and learning in those classrooms.”

Most students on the Plaza said they didn’t know about the amount of private funding received by CSU.

“I was surprised to discover how much support came from private donors. I was uninformed,” said senior biology major Rachael Jorgensen. “This is a great opportunity to show how much CSU appreciates support.”

Richard Muller, a junior graphic design major, said he saw the posters promoting the event around campus last week, but didn’t understand what they were for. When he found out, he said he was excited, impressed and grateful.

Students who signed cards received complementary food, including coffee and cookies. A total of 4,000 postcards were printed for the event, and will be sent to first-time donors of the university.

On the cards, students signed their name, hometown, major and graduation year. They could also write a personal message.

And while Muller wrote, “You’re the hidden Santa that saves my life every semester,” many just kept it at “Thanks.”

Collegian writer Elisabeth Willner can be reached at

By the numbers

In the 2010-2011 fiscal year:

27,677 private donors gave a total of $85 million to CSU

Those donations:

established 418 new scholarships and 14 new faculty positions
built or renovated 38 research, educational and athletics facilities, 16 of which were 100 percent funded by private support

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