Dedicated alumni and friends of Eastern Illinois University are to be credited for the institution’s third consecutive record year in fundraising.
Even after the multi-year “EI&U: Expect Greatness” capital campaign ended a year ago, individuals continued to give in record amounts, said Bob Martin, vice president for university advancement. Gifts and pledges during Fiscal Year 2013 (July 1, 2012, through July 31, 2013) totaled $15.8 million.
“We’re thrilled that our alumni continue to care about Eastern and our students,” he said. “And we want them to know that we are thankful for their contributions -- from the $1 million donors to the $1, $5 or $10 donors.”
According to Martin, scholarships have been a top area of support. More than 203 new scholarships were created during the “EI&U: Expect Greatness” campaign, and more are continually being added as donors recognize scholarships as a top university priority requiring continued support.
Planned giving remains another area in which dedicated alumni show interest. According to Martin, when alumni remember Eastern in their wills, it indicates they thought highly enough of their EIU education and experience to include the institution in their legacy plans.
During the most recent fiscal year – and for the first time in a single year – EIU legacy gifts exceeded $10 million, he added.
Since it can be difficult for an alumnus to stay connected with his/her alma mater after graduation, EIU steadily works to renew relationships with its graduates. Martin praised Eastern’s Alumni Services team for “a fantastic job of involving alumni in exciting social activities.”
University-sponsored activities brought EIU administrators and staff together with alumni in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri and throughout Illinois in 2012-2013.
"More than 30 events were held for EIU alumni across the county last year,” Martin added, citing a tour of the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, a Cubs vs. Cardinals baseball game and performances at the university’s own Doudna Fine Arts Center as examples.
In addition, Alumni Services and the EIU Alumni Association teamed up to form Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, an organization aimed at engaging current students with Eastern alumni and the university as a whole.
Tim McCollum, a 1973 graduate and past president of the Alumni Association board, said the organization could serve a multitude of purposes, including networking.
“STAT can help students tap into the unlimited resources of alumni in whatever fields (the students) are interested in,” McCollum said. “And when students reach out to alumni, they can see Eastern alumni with very successful careers.”
The organization also makes students realize the importance of giving back to the university after they graduate.
Kaci Abolt, former student body president who is now an alumna, worked with Alumni Services to help jumpstart STAT. She wants students to understand they will always be Panthers, even after graduation day.
“Eastern alumni make so much of what we do at EIU possible,” Abolt said. “As a result of their giving, as well as constant support, we are able to grow and continue to excel in all forms of university life.” (Learn more about Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow here.)
Martin also voiced his appreciation for his entire university advancement team, which, in addition to Alumni Services, includes the offices of University Development and Communications, Marketing and Brand Strategies.
“Through their great work, these employees have proven themselves as ambassadors of goodwill whose work positively changes the lives of our students,” he said.