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Alumni Give $1 Million as a Challenge

In a challenge to others, two anonymous SUNY Plattsburgh graduates have pledged to give the largest gift in the college's history.

The husband and wife team — members of the classes of ’70 and ’72 respectively — have pledged $1 million to help the college achieve the goals of the Bright with Promise Campaign by June 30.

They have challenged the college to meet two specific objectives: The Challenge for Alumni Participation seeks to encourage 1,500 additional alumni to make a gift, of any amount, by June 30; the Matching Challenge seeks $1 million in new gifts and pledges from the entire Plattsburgh family of alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, businesses and friends of the college. Success on both fronts will ensure the college realizes the $1 million match and surpasses the $15 million goal for the Bright with Promise Campaign.

A senior class gift program and a participation competition between the graduates have been launched to energize a new sense of school spirit during the challenge, said Anne Hansen, vice president for institutional advancement at the college.

As such, the graduation class that enlists the largest increase in donors will be honored over the course of SUNY Plattsburgh’s next fiscal year: School mascot Burghy will wear the class year — year round. The class will see its pennant flying atop the college's flag pole. And classmates will receive a 30 percent discount on imprinted items purchased at the college bookstore from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.

“Sometimes people don’t feel like their gift of $15 would make a big difference to students, but it can,” Hansen said. “We all know there is power in numbers. When many people give, gifts are quickly multiplied. For example, half of the college’s total alumni, 25,324 people, graduated in the past 20 years, yet only 2 percent of this group supported the college last year. If every recent grad gave something, the impact on students would be tremendous, and the future would definitely be brighter.”

In offering up the challenge, the alumni donors said, “If everyone can take 15 minutes or less and give $15 or more, we can make amazing things happen for the students and their communities.”

SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling applauded the gift, expressing the college’s gratitude “to these two alumni for offering this incredible challenge,” he said. “Never before has the college received a challenge of this magnitude, and we hope it inspires all members of the college community. This is an exciting turning point in our alumni and development program. We are presented with the opportunity to build a tremendous base of support, which could profoundly impact the education and assistance we provide to our students far into the future.”

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