During Heidelberg University's Alumni Weekend in June, the Class of 1963 gave the largest gift in the history of the university's reunion giving program.
The class gave the university $5.5 million in cash, pledges and gifts in estate plans.
Class members began their fundraising campaign at their 45th reunion, Jim Minehart, executive director of development and planned giving at Heidelberg, said.
Minehart helps to organize a committee of class members and gives them ideas on what type of gift they could give.
Terry Owen, member of the class of '63 and of the Heidelberg board of trustees, served as a co-chairman of the Class of '63 Reunion Gift Committee.
"I believe former classes gave back to Heidelberg for reasons that vary according to the individuals who gave," Owen said. "For some, it was to honor professors or coaches or the concert choir or study abroad.
"Different aspects of the Heidelberg experience touch people in meaningful ways that have lasting effects over one's lifetime. Those positive feelings bring people back for the reunions and they promote the willingness to contribute to Heidelberg. The short answer is because 'Heidelberg Is Special.'"
"Heidelberg Is Special" was the theme for the 50th class reunion.
Of the 234 living members of the class of 1963, 111 members, or 48 percent, of the class contributed to the reunion gift program.
"Through their experiences as students and then, throughout their lives, in their careers, in community service, in their relationships, they have demonstrated a collective philanthropic spirit that is extraordinary," Heidelberg President Robert Huntington said.
As class members considered their personal and financial commitment, Minehart said, they were encouraged to select from a menu of items that supported the needs of the university.
In the category of capital campaigns, gifts were directed to support the Adams Hall renovation, construction of the Saurwein Health and Wellness Center and the upcoming construction and completion of the stadium and alumni center.
"The students will also benefit because programs will be able to be improved and they will have a stronger academic experience," Kathy Venema, associate vice president for institutional advancement and alumni relations for Heidelberg, said. "It's great that the class believes and supports what we do and they give back to their alma mater."
Gifts and pledges also were directed toward the $75 million Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence. Money would go to support faculty and staff development, faculty and student research, the Owen Academic and Career Support Center, campus technology, science equipment, the faculty AIM Hei Student Mentoring program, scholarships, international study and the Ohl Endowment.
"Most of our classmates have very favorable memories of and are grateful for our Heidelberg experiences," Owen said. "Many of my classmates were eager to support the ACCE options that were most meaningful to us, and the ability to contribute through estate planning was incredibly well utilized."
"The impact of their gifts will make a difference for generations," Huntington said. "Because of their generosity, Heidelberg will become better, bigger, stronger and smarter."