DOVER — Members of the Delaware State College class of 1965 not only celebrated their 50th anniversary by their presence at the university’s May commencement, but they also used the occasion to show their love for their alma mater by presenting a donation of $104,000 — the largest gift presented to DSU by an alumni class.
The class of 1965 made the presentation during a reception hosted by DSU President Harry L. Williams and his wife Dr. Robin Williams at their residence on May 16.
The fundraiser was born when five members of the class — Jimmy and Tina Strong, Dr. Martin Drew, the late Don Wright and the late Wilbur “Bigsby” Johnson, who both passed away in 2013 — were attending the 2011 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and got into a discussion about what they could do to better support their alma mater.
“It originally began with the idea that if we could get 20 alums to give $5,000, then we would raise $100,000 for the university,” Mr. Strong said.
As the fundraising concept began taking shape, the question became what to call it. “At some point, Don Wright said, ‘Let’s call it the Culture of Giving’,” Ms. Strong said.
The “Culture of Giving” not only stuck with the class of 1965’s fundraising commitment, but also became an important part of the general language at DSU to inspire a new mindset where alumni support of DSU is concerned.
Meanwhile the original steering committee expanded, as class member Carolyn Golden Hebsgaard joined the original committee, which had already begun making calls to class members that they could reach and working to locate others that they had lost track of over the years.
“Martin (the fundraising chairman) was a running telephone when it came to reaching out to alumni from the class,” Ms. Strong said.
Fast-forward five years later, and the pledge has become a fulfilled reality. A total of 62 people — other members of the class of 1965 as well as family and friends — contributed to the fundraising drive.
“This is historic, because you made a commitment and you exceeded it,” Dr. Williams said.
“This gift is not only tremendously remarkable as a reflection of your love for your alma mater, but also as a new standard for alumni support of DSU.”
“It is our hope that our efforts to raise $104,000 will inspire other alumni to share our spirit in creating a culture of giving for the university,” Ms. Hebsgaard said.
While hoping other alumni will follow their lead, the class of 1965 is not done. Members of the class have pledged to set aside $25 per month to add to the historic amount they have already raised.