Gator Give Day hopes to reach new heights


Photo courtesy of Allegheny Marketing and Communications

The Gator Give Day logo. Gator Give Day will take place on Wednesday, Aprl. 20

The race is on to unlock a $1.25 million donation to the college. The money is part of Gator Give Day, an annual fundraising campaign that encourages those involved with the college from all eras to provide financial support for the institution. This year’s Gator Give Day is unique, though, because an anonymous alum has put forth a donation of $1 million for the college. The Board of Trustees added another $250,000, to raise the total to $1.25 million. The catch? 3,000 people must make a donation of any amount before the culmination of the campaign on April 20 in order to unlock the funds.
Gator Give Day was started during the college’s bicentennial celebration as a way to give those involved with the college “the opportunity to pave the way for Allegheny students to explore paths, discover callings, and write their own stories,” according to the college’s website. More than 7,100 alumni, students, family members, employees and friends of the college have participated with donations in the program’s nine years, Acting President Ron Cole, ’87, wrote in an email sent to the college community on March 20, 2023. As of 2021, more than $3.5 million in gifts and unlocked matching gifts have been donated on Gator Give Day, according to the college website.
“Allegheny was founded a long time ago on the concept of access to a quality education,” said Chairman of the Board of Trustees Steve Levinsky, ’78. “The idea was to say even way back when we were founded, it was hard to afford a quality education. And so the college on the hill was founded to say, ‘We want to make sure that we give everybody that we can an opportunity to participate in that high-quality residential liberal arts education.’ And we’re committed to that now, some 200 years later. To make that happen, though, it truly takes a lot of money because we give a tremendous amount of financial support to students.”
Jose Rodriquez, ’89, is one of the few individuals who has donated on Gator Give Day every year since its inception.
“It’s something I look forward to doing every year,” Rodriguez said. “It’s something that I talk about with my friends who are alumni as well, so we kind of hype each other hype or get each other excited about it or talk about it. I think it’s a really great way to focus one day about our alma mater.”
As a student, Rodriguez was involved with cross country, track and field, Association of Black Collegians and Latinos Unidos. Now, he donates a couple thousand dollars each year to support programs similar to the ones he was involved with.
“I’m a big proponent of time, talent and treasure,” Rodriguez said. “And we all have at least one of them at any moment in time, some two, some three. So whatever I can do within that, I’m going to do it for Allegheny. And so I am excited about being able to continue this tradition on my end, you know, to help support my alma mater. It’s nothing as simple as that, it’s just giving back to what they have given me as an undergrad and over the years.”
Given previous Gator Give Day turnout, the goal of getting 3,000 people to donate in order to unlock the $1.25 million reward is within reach. In 2022, the college had 2,580 donors, and in 2021, the college had 2,612 donors, according to Senior Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Engagement Sara Pineo.
To incentivize students to contribute to reaching the donor goal, a member of the Board of Trustees will host a Casey’s Ice Cream Social on Study Day, May 3, for all students if 100 students make a donation of any size for Gator Give Day. Levinsky said some students have participated in the campaign in the past, and that this is the “modest” start of the college trying to further involve students.
“When I first saw that, I didn’t know if I was going to donate or not,” said Emily Tekelenburg, ’24. “Just because I feel like the school gives a lot of financial aid, which is an incentive for a lot of people who aren’t necessarily in, like, the upper middle class of the socio-economic scale to come to this school. There’s also — there’s some classism in college. There’s always classism at college. And the idea of getting 100 people to donate seems like a big ask for a campus that’s, like, of 1,200 students. So, it’s something that I’m like, maybe I’ll donate just to be a part of it, like $5 at the maximum.”
Donations can be made online at any point. Donors have the ability to create their own matches to spur competition, as well as choose from over 50 different funds for their donations to go towards, like Gator Success Grants and individual scholarships to athletic teams and academic departments, among other groups.
On the donation portal, there is a message board for donors to leave short notes describing what they love about Allegheny.
“Someone once told me that you go to college for an education, not a job,” wrote Alex Hay, ’09. “At Allegheny College, though, you get an education and experiences that more than prepare you to find a job and grow in your career/field for years to come. I donate to Gator Give Day every year in the hopes of continuing that education for generations to come and as a token of gratitude for the foundation on which my career has been built.”
In 2021, Gator Give Day donors spanned a range of 75 graduating classes. This year, Don Zuris, ’66, donated.
“I can’t thank the professors enough who I had at Allegheny,” Zuris wrote. “They challenged me intellectually, and instilled in me the value of a liberal arts education. Their efforts paved the way for a career teaching and mentoring young people in the museum profession. I will always value my Allegheny experience, and am proud to support my alma mater.”
On Gator Give Day there will be a livestream that tracks total donations and showcases special guests who will announce donation milestones. There will also be a celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Henderson Campus Center lobby with snacks and giveaways for students.
Levinsky hopes people involved with the college will reflect on their time with the institution and choose to support its continuation.
“You can go around and say, you know, ‘Can you talk about Allegheny?’ And they (alumni) start in a very happy way saying, ‘God, it changed my life,’” Levinsky said. “That’s what the place is all about. That’s what we want to continue. And we need additional financial help to make that happen. So I’m not going to go out and you know, say, ‘Gosh, I want everybody to give $20 or $50.’ But if you give what you can in any amount, it really does all add up. And if we can get 3,000 people to do that, that unleashes another $1.25 million.”