Is it a mace? Is it a scholarship? No – it’s a plaque and time capsule; the senior class gift. On March 23, the senior gift committee changed the senior class gift for the third time, settling on a bronze plaque. The plaque will be affixed to a boulder in the green space that is currently under construction on the corner of Hannah and Erie Streets, where the I-House used to stand.
The cost of this gift cannot be estimated, according to Suzanne VanWassenhove, until the committee decides the length of the message that will be engraved; once the message on the plaque has been decided, a boulder proportionate to the plaque will be secured. Any money that is left over after the financing of the green space plaque will be put toward a general scholarship fund.
“I thought it was great to see so many seniors appreciate and support the need for student scholarship,” VanWasshenhove said.
The senior class will also create a time capsule with mementos from each class member that contributes to the gift. The capsule will be opened at the 2010 class’ 25th reunion — also the college’s 200-year anniversary.
Prior to the senior gift committee’s decision to contribute to the green space, two other senior class gifts had been announced. The original plan of the senior gift committee was to purchase a presidential mace, which was to be carried by the sitting president at all Albion College formal ceremonies.
“(The presidential mace) is a wonderful and appropriate gift in conjunction with the College’s 175th anniversary; however, it appears that the timing is neither wonderful nor appropriate,” said VanWassenhove in an email to the senior gift committee sent on March 19, referencing the decision by the Board of Trustees to cut 15 FTE faculty positions. “Mean-spirited words are being spoken as people and projects become targets for venting anger. The presidential mace is one of those targets. It is being perceived as insensitive and used, by some, as a symbol for something that it is not.”
In reaction to this attitude, the committee presented the idea of providing money to the Albion College Fund, which supports student scholarships and faculty development.
“When the committee met , Trajan and I listened to their desire for a gift more tangible than one provided to the annual fund,” Vanwassenhove said. “We heard about other classmates’ interest in something sustainable, and suggested a tree or something in the green space previously occupied by the I-House.”
On March 16, before the initial decision to change the gift, the senior gift committee held a meeting to discuss the donations amount that had been received for the mace. $406 had been raised through 31 gifts, along with a $100 pledge, leaving approximately $1,700 to be raised. The committee had hoped to meet the goal of $2,500 by March 15.
Combined donations represented less than ten percent of the senior class, which was asked to provide a donation of $10.
“The mace received a lack of support from the senior class- we only raised about $500 to put towards it,” said Marissa Alaska, Naperville, Ill. senior. “The reason we switched to a plaque for the green space is because we wanted something permanent that our class can come back and see at our reunions. It will also be special, since we can personalize the plaque with a quote or saying to represent the class of 2010.”
According to Trajan Dubiel, assistant director of annual giving, seniors who have donated toward the mace will have the option of having their donation refunded or provide authorization to instead contribute it towards the new gift.
“Part of the reason I think seniors were against the mace is in these economic times, it is hard to afford a school like Albion,” Alaska said. “This scholarship can give someone the opportunity to attend Albion despite the financial situation, so people are seeing it as a worthwhile donation to make.”
President Donna Randall agreed with the senior class gift committee’s decision to fund a more appropriate contribution to Albion.
“While the committee’s interest in providing a presidential mace for the College is certainly appreciated, the timing of such a gift may not be ideal,” Randall said. “The Committee’s sensitivity to the larger budget issues facing the College is appreciated.”