Senior gifts find new homes

Amber Matha and Cheyanne Crum

Many changes have been happening on campus, and they have had an effect on three previous senior class gifts.

During spring 2017, the Class of 2007 gift, the multipurpose court between Briggs and Lewis avenues, was removed to make way for the construction of Ryan Hall, the new sophomore housing set to be completed for fall 2018.

Many students used the outdoor court for weekend basketball tournaments when the weather permitted instead of using the indoor basketball court at the REC Center.

Lindsay Frank ’12, ’14, director of Alumni Engagement, has been in charge of making sure that the university stays in contact with all of the classes that are affected by the changes on campus.

“The Class of 2007’s gift likely cannot be moved to another location because it was taken down during the big knockdown of the Briggs and Lewis apartments,” Frank said. “They are fully in understanding that it is in the best interests for the university to move forward and have this amazing residence hall for the students.”

Though the changes are not what the classes expected when the gifts were presented, representatives of the classes understood that it was for the betterment of the university.

“It was disappointing at first to hear that our Class of 2007 gift was being removed, but once I understood the reasoning behind the change, it was certainly understandable,” said Ryan Palm ’07, associate vice president for advancement.

Despite the loss of the basketball court, a memorial bench that had been in memory of a deceased classmate will be placed elsewhere on campus.

“We all like to think that our class gifts are permanent and indestructible, but the reality is that a college campus is constantly changing and evolving,” Palm said. “Mercyhurst will do everything it can do to adequately replace the legacy left behind by the class of 2007.”

The second class gift that has been affected by recent changes was from the Class of 2008. The 24/7 lounge – a student favorite – is being moved from the lower level of Hammermill Library to make way for the new cyber security lab.

“The people from the Class of 2008 will be celebrating their 10th reunion this upcoming year, and we want to keep them involved and keep them connected with what is going on,” Frank said. “We have corresponded with all of the donors from that class and let them know: ‘Your senior gift is being moved.’”

The new location of the 24/7 lounge will be the atrium of the Center for Academic Engagement. The plaque that honors top donors for that gift will be moved as well.

“The next step is now to inform them of what exactly is happening with the senior gift. Their whole idea for their gift was to create a space where students could study at any hour of the night,” Frank said. “That idea, and that legacy, will be preserved.”

When the transition of the atrium into the 24/7 lounge is complete, all students will have OneCard access into the atrium after hours.

“More pieces are being put into the building to prevent (students) from leaving the atrium area,” Frank said.

“As far as current students are concerned, if they don’t have class in the CAE, they don’t get to experience all that the CAE has to offer,” said Courtney Olevnik, ’08, director of Donor Relations. “With the 24-hour lounge being relocated, all of our students will have the opportunity to study in this building and to enjoy the gorgeous view of the lake.”

The removal of the 24/7 lounge also alters plans for the location of a coffee bar, the Class of 2017 gift.

“(The coffee bar) will now go to a new spot that will be able to be accessed by all of the students,” Frank said. “As the library is going under all of this construction there are lots of plans being made for it. My office is staying in close contact with those plans to make sure that the Class of 2017 gift happens, and we are also staying in close contact with all of those donors.”

Because of the changes and improvements beginning on campus, President Michael T. Victor has suggested a change with the senior class gift process as a whole.

“There had to be a change in the senior class gift, just because there has been three class gifts that need to be readjusted. We do not want that to keep happening in the future,” Frank said. “The way that we have been doing senior gift for so many years, nearly 30 years, is going to be changing a little bit.”

Beginning in 2018, class gifts will be a scholarship. Each year, the senior class will change the name of the scholarship and raise funds.

“This gift will obviously take a big turn for senior class gifts,” said Lynne Gillott, senior class gift chair. “It is something very different that we have never done before.”

Some students were disappointed by not having the option to select the gift like senior classes of the past have been able to do.

“I know a lot of people had a lot of really cool ideas. The more (the senior class gift chairs) talked about it, the more we realized this is really awesome,” Gillott said. “It is the gift that keeps giving, so it will be around years after we are gone.”