Students thank alumni donors

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Students participated in Thanks Day outside Gregory Gym on Wednesday by signing a giant thank-you card to be presented to UT’s alumni and donors at a special Texas Exes Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday.

Donations are essential to securing UT’s $2.26 billion annual operating budget, said Julie Lucas, assistant director for development at the University Development Office.

Student tuition and fees only make up 24 percent, less than half the 54 percent provided annually by alumni gifts.

The event, organized by Students Hooked On Texas, was designed to educate UT students on what it takes to create and fund a “Longhorn” education. Students filled in turkey-hand letters, writing the names of anyone they were thankful to on the fingers, to be sent to alumni. Lucas said donations have been very stable year to year despite the current economic climate. Donations were not being sought at Thanks Day, Lucas said.

“All we want to do is say thank you to everyone who participates, whether they’re UT parents, alumni, donors, faculty, staff, taxpayers, state legislators and everyone else, for helping to make our students’ education possible,” Lucas said.

More than 1,500 students participated in Thanks Day last year, said Lucas.

Government sophomore Hannah Tucker, Students Hooked On Texas philanthropy council member, said it was important to increase the culture of giving on campus.

Tucker said the aim of the event was to get enough handwritten messages to send every single donor a personalized message.

“We want students to appreciate all the donors and what they make possible,” Tucker said.

Students Hooked on Texas was formed in 1998 with the purpose of providing education for students about the impact of philanthropy at UT. The organization sports a graphic representation of funding’s importance in the shape of a cow on the group’s brochure.

Student Government spokeswoman Sydney Fazende said she does not think students are fully aware of how much of UT’s funding is reliant on donors.

“This campaign is all about letting students know how important donations are,” Fazende said. “I didn’t know how much alumni donations made up before Thanks Day, but the cow graphic has been really effective in demonstrating the funding breakdown.”

Management information systems junior Veronica Becerra filled in the giant card with a message reading “Thank you for the support, my education is thanks to you.”

“All the private donations that come in are just so important,” Becerra said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be able to [go] here.”

Printed on Thursday, November 17, 2011 as: Thanks Day event celebrates contributions to UT funding