College Alums Are Asked To Give Back

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Did you go to college? Did you get a great education?

Do you give back to your alma mater?

Alums of Arizona State University may have gotten a call or an email today. March 19th was Sun Devil Giving Day. Why does this matter? Alumni donations are a key to building world class universities.

As a member of the ASU National Alumni Council I recently sat through a session on university money matters. The message was this. If the wild-west wants to compete with the Ivy League schools back east then alums need to step up. Even universities that get state funding like the UC and Cal State systems are likely to be reliant on donor dollars for the bells and whistles, like professor fellowships.

Before you run for the Hollywood Hills, understand the theory is no donation too small. Fundraisers cite the little ones that add up. Sure mega-million dollar donations are welcomed. USC just got a 15-million dollar anonymous gift to build a dorm. Cal-State Fullerton boasts of alumnus Steven G. Mihalyo who gave that school a one-time $30 million gift in 2008. Stanford has done well with donations from the founder of Nike and co-founder of Yahoo.

The goal at ASU, however, is to also tap into the average alum by tapping into individual passion. Did you play on the football team? Did you march in the band? Did you love frat life? Did you get a scholarship? Alums are being asked to give back to where they had a good experience.

ASU is the nation's university with the largest enrollment. Eighty thousand students attend, with a fair share from California. ASU's goal is to "increase affinity, engagement and philanthropy."

My days of campus life are long gone. I now sit on the National Alumni Council which means an occasional trip back home. My big connection comes football season. Each fall I join my fellow alums and new Cali friends from USC or UCLA at the local rivalry.

My university is asking me to put a l'il money where my mouth is. It's not good enough to tweet "Go Devils" or flash the fork at football games. I attended ASU thanks to Leadership Scholarship. My broadcast journalism professor helped me get my first anchor job. I worked at the dorms, so I got to live for free. So, those would be my areas of interest. Call it a pay back, or a pay forward, for a future student.