Letter to the Editor: Pay it forward

To the Editor:

As co-chairs of this year’s Alumni Fund, we enjoy the opportunity to make the case for giving to Williams in general and to the Alumni Fund in particular. Chris Huffaker raises a host of points to consider (“Rethink your donation,” Feb. 12), but an important reason over 1600 alumni volunteers succeed in encouraging over 16,000 Williams alumni to give every year is this: Pay it forward.

Williams has a “sticker price” of $60,000, but given the financial resources of the student body, the College, on average, collects about $30,000 per student. And yet it costs more than $90,000 annually to educate each Williams student. The difference between the $90,000 it costs and the $30,000 the College collects per student has to come from somewhere. And that somewhere is the pool of funds donated by legions

of Ephs who have gone before. The majority of the College’s income comes from the endowment, funded by alumni gifts for almost two centuries and which the College has carefully stewarded. That means every Eph gets financial aid, and thus every Eph benefits from the generosity of past donors.

The Alumni and Parents Funds generate approximately $14 million each year, about eight percent of the budget. One might consider that these funds support the entire cost of educating over 150 current students. Or consider that the Alumni and Parents Funds could fund the entire English department and the entire math department, combined. But we think about it this way: the Alumni Fund and Parents Fund make the difference between Williams being a good school and Williams being a great school.

The Alumni Fund is unique among its kind in that it is run in large measure by its 1600 volunteers spanning over 75 class years. Williams has long enjoyed an annual tradition of classmates talking with each other every year about their lives and the College. Our alumni are and remain connected to each other and the College through the work of the Alumni Fund. We provide the College with broad perspectives and feedback as well as financial resources. And our engagement has held the college accountable to a high and progressive standard that has made it a model of liberal arts education.

We contribute our time and money to a variety of worthy causes for personal and very satisfying reasons. And we enjoy the opportunity to pay it forward to Williams, as was done for us.

The Williams College Society of Alumni, under which the Alumni Fund operates, is the oldest alumni association in the world. Over 60 percent of living alums routinely donate to the Alumni Fund, which makes Williams one of only three colleges in America with a greater than 60 percent giving rate. We, the generations of Ephs who have gone before, have been investing in Williams students for 193 years and counting.

We choose to invest in the current generation of Williams students. And we will continue to do so for many years to come.

David Pesikoff ’90 and Lee Szykowny ’80

2013-14 Alumni Fund Co-chairs


One comment

  1. Thanks for your well reasoned and perfectly obvious reply to that ridiculous “Op Ed”
    piece in the Record. As an annual donor for sixty years I am happy to be one of the 60 plus percent of Ephs who realize what a special place Williams is and how important it is to keep it that way. I’m sure I have never managed to repay the life-time value of the scholarship I enjoyed at Williams many years ago.

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