“Dessert With Donors” Event sheds light on process of university fundraising

Donors discuss alternate forms of philanthropy including service


Andrew Dunklee

Desert with Donors consisted of a panel of donors and students. THe event was intended to inform students about various forms of philanthropy, including community service.

There has been nearly $190 million donated to St. Edward’s during President George Martin’s tenure, and the bulk of the donations have come from alumni, according to the Office of University Advancement.

However, there still exist common misconceptions about donations to the university and where they go. Dessert With Donors was created in an attempt to address these concerns.

Hosted by the Office of University Advancement and the student organization Hilltoppers for Hilltoppers, Dessert With Donors is an event where students get a chance to mingle with some of the university’s most distinguished donors while also enjoying delicious treats. The event featured a panel of five SEU donors

including Joanna Ariola, the current student body president.

When asked about her interest in philanthropy, Ariola cited her upbringing.

“When I saw everything that the university did, I felt compelled to give back,” Ariola said.

Ariola’s primary contribution hasn’t been monetary, but rather in her service work with the university. According to Ariola, philanthropy is less about excessive sums of money and buildings with last names on them and more about students helping students.

“Every student here can think of one thing that they can give back,” Ariola said.

This spirit of giving back was what inspired SEU student Sydney Wade to form Hilltoppers for Hilltoppers. The organization, which is now affiliated with Student Life and the Office of Advancement, was created to directly challenge common misconceptions about philanthropy, misconceptions that Wade herself held until she became more involved with philanthropy on campus.

“I originally thought that we contributed to St. Ed’s in general, but that’s not the case. It can be so much more,” Wade said. “On Monday, we simply gave students bundt cakes to try and show them that we care.”

However, even if student-to-student interaction is at the heart of philanthropy, many students may feel hesitant or reluctant to try and give back to a university that has had a dorm completely flood due to construction issues and has seen tuition costs rise by 15% over the past three years, while living in a city that has seen living costs steadily rise.

As a graphic design student, Amy Truong has developed marketing material for the University Advancement Office. Through her connections there, she decided to come to the Desert with Donors to show her support for her fellow Hilltoppers.

“I wanted to get to know the donors because they really care about the students and they would like to hear our stories,” Truong said.

Dr. David Sprague (class of ‘95), who is a St. Edward’s Trustee, says that he is sympathetic to many of the concerns students face.

“If you do give, give from the heart… it’s not just money; it’s time. It’s about helping people,” Sprague said.