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Class of 1972 gives second largest donation in school history

Carleton recently received its second largest class gift in the school’s history when 200 members of the Class of 1972 collectively donated $39.1 million for their 50th Reunion gift. The Class of 1970 currently holds the largest donation on record with a $64.2 million gift in 2020. But not all of the money will be immediately put to use, as the donation has predetermined designations set in place. 

When classes celebrate their 50th Reunion, they have the opportunity to pick a special project — whether it be scholarships, internships, or other initiatives — to allocate their fundraised money towards. The main focus for the Class of 1972 was to expand Carleton’s financial aid endowment as well as support the college’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Plan. 

$3.3 million of the donation will be used to create an endowed scholarship, Carleton’s largest 50th Reunion scholarship fund in history. The Class of ’72 also established a “Get Started Fund” to provide financial support to members of future incoming classes. This fund will assist students with college expenses not covered by tuition such as airfare, computers and even winter jackets. 

The money will not, however, be received all at once, as most donations flow over a period of one to five years. Many of the donations are also part of donors’ estate commitments, which are typically received upon the donor’s death. 

Sarah Forster ’93 P’22 P’24, the Director of Milestone Reunions, provides leadership for Carleton’s 25th and 50th Reunion programs,working with volunteers and alumni to drive engagement and giving during these landmark events. When asked to comment on this particular donation, Forster responded: “The entire class deserves credit for 1972’s extraordinary results, in particular the leadership and generosity of 1972’s Reunion volunteers. What’s really remarkable is they accomplished this all largely over Zoom. Over the course of a three year planning effort, the first time the Reunion committee gathered in person was at their 50th last June! Like others in the Carleton community who have navigated the pandemic, 1972’s creativity, perseverance, and love for the college made all the difference.”

The intent behind this donation is to allocate money to students who are economically disadvantaged. One student, who would like to keep their identity anonymous, gave their opinion on this donation: “As a student who identifies as low income, I think that the donation is really great since it is specially designated towards supporting low income students. Personally, I find it frustrating that alumni donations have to be specifically categorized instead of allowing the school to identify the areas of greatest financial need and allocating funds accordingly, so I am particularly grateful that the class decided to put their donation towards this particular area.”

Mary Savina, a recently retired Carleton Geology professor, was also a member of the Class of 1972. Savina served as a member on the Reunion committee, focusing on the program planning aspect of this past summer’s event. When she learned of the near record-breaking donation, she responded: “I was surprised that the total gift was so high on the list of Carleton 50th reunion gifts and I’m really proud of my classmates.”

Savina went on to explain her Class’s donation and how it compares with previous donations from the Class of 1962: “Because of the way reunions are structured, we always have reunions with classes that end on -2 and -7. The Class of 1962 is one of those classes that we share reunions with. And every time we have a reunion, the class of 1962 tops the list in the size of its class gift. The gifts are announced to great fanfare at a special reunion convocation, and I remember one year (it might have been the class of 1962’s 50th) when the class of 1962 held up big numbers for their gift. Their numbers were $8,444,444 —until someone yelled out ‘Wait, wait, we left a number out!’and someone with a ‘2’ stood to the right of the person with the ‘8’ – so their gift was something like $28,444,444. It seemed inconceivable to me that our group of 1972 [alumni] would be able to play in that league.” 

Savina emphasized that while the amount used in her anecdote may not be the precise amount, the idea is the same: the Class of 1972 surprised themselves and the Carleton community as a whole with the size of their donation, which will have a large impact on the students now and in the years to come. 

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