By MADISON HANLEY
In honor of the University of Mary Washington’s 107th anniversary this March, the University is launching a large-scale fundraiser.
Since UMW is celebrating the anniversary of its founding on March 14, the Alumni Association Board of Directors decided to launch the UMW Founder’s Day Challenge to commemorate the occasion. According to a letter written by UMW President Rick Hurley, the purpose of implementing this fundraising challenge, in cooperation with the Fund for Mary Washington, is to provide money for university’s needs.
“Each year, this fund helps fill in the gaps between the operating budget from the Commonwealth of Virginia and actual needs for students and academic programs,” said Hurley in a message to alumni. “The needs and academic programs that are funded range from scholarship support, Career and Academic Service Programs and senior class celebrations.”
Raising funds is not the only aim of the Founder’s Day Challenge. The initiative also has the opportunity to determine college rankings and recommendations by grant-making institutions. These are determined by the amount of alumni giving. While it is encouraged for everyone to donate to the challenge fund, alumni donations are noted as particularly important.
“Each year, UMW has to complete multi-page questionnaires from national ranking publications. One of the many questions on every form is about alumni giving and participation,” said Donna Raab, the executive director of Advancement Campaign Initiatives. “Each publication has a different way in which they weigh and process the answers, but it is a part of their consideration when they announce rankings. Grant making organizations are the same.”
While alumni participation is crucial in the UMW Founder’s Day Challenge and other fundraisers taking place within the university community, many alumni, particularly recent graduates, find donating to fundraising efforts like UMW Founder’s Day Challenge to be difficult.
“I do care very much about the school, as it’s given me nearly everything I’ve needed to find my path in life, but for right now I can’t donate to the Founder’s Challenge,” said Catie LeBouton, a 2014 alumna.
Despite the difficulty for some graduates, specifically recent graduates, to donate to fundraising efforts like the Founder’s Day Challenge, last year’s giving report stated that 63 percent of donors were alumni.
“I do think that the Founder’s Day Challenge is a good idea. Alumni support provides the school with the tools necessary to help students be successful post-graduation,” said Jillian Talley, a senior anthropology major. “Yes, I do think that it is a feasible goal. If the campaign is marketed well to the alumni, they will want to donate money back to the university.”
Part of the goal of Founder’s Day Challenge is also to celebrate the history of UMW’s founding. Before 1908, there was only one educational institution in the state of Virginia, the Normal School for Women at Farmville, which was devoted to offering women the opportunity to be trained as teachers. However, C. O’Connor Goolrick, a member of the Virginia Senate, saw the need for an education school to be located in Fredericksburg, Virginia and fought vigorously for that educational institution to be put into place.
During the 1908 legislative session, two new locations for normal schools for the training of teachers were proposed. The state Senate wanted the school to be located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, while the House of Delegates argued that Fredericksburg, Virginia would be the ideal destination.
Intense arguments regarding the location for the new school ensued within the Senate and the House, but a compromise was eventually reached. Both locations for the new normal school for the training of teachers were permitted, and the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Fredericksburg, now known as the University of Mary Washington, was created.
The Founder’s Day Challenge has successfully raised $6,465 as of Feb. 4. The University has approximately a month to reach their fundraising goal of $107,000.