Students join Step Forward campaign for alumni money

By April DeJarlais

Macalester’s capital campaign, Step Forward, is going on tour, and some students are going along for the ride. Several students have been selected to give speeches asking for money as the campaign makes a series of appearances across the country geared towards alumni.Student representatives will speak at regional campaign events, with 100-250 alumni in attendance. The events began in October with a trip to Chicago, and will continue through April with stops in eight U.S. cities and London. The student speaker at a given event must be from the city in which it is held, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre said.

The events feature an alumni host, as well as Step Forward Chairman Jerry Crawford and President Brian Rosenberg.

Hamre said that the goal of the student speakers is to get alumni to hearken back to what the they remembered from their own Macalester experience, whether it was studying abroad opportunities, international classmates or the discovery of different academic areas.

“In a four-minute speech, the student must give a sense of the difference Macalester has made in their life,” Hamre said.

Crawford’s role is to make the “case for Macalester,” or why it is that alumni should be involved with the future of the college, Hamre said. Rosenberg will describe the areas of the campaign, or what the alumni will be supporting.

It’s important for the alumni and students to make connections, in order for the alumni to see how they can help Macalester reach its full potential as a college, Hamre said.

The students show the alumni what Macalester’s current priorities are, and why they are important, even if those priorities don’t directly involve a specific alumnus’ experience at Macalester. Sport teams’ alumni weren’t the main contributors to the Leonard Center, Hamre said, and past fine arts students won’t be exclusively funding the Janet Wallace renovations.

Step Forward launched its campaign in mid-October with community and student events at the Leonard Center, but it had taken organizers and administrators two years of work to get to that point, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre said.

Hamre said colleges typically fundraise year round to support their annual operating budgets. Step Forward differs in that it supports designated program areas. More than $100 million of the overall campaign goal of $150 million has been raised.

In addition to giving speeches giving speeches, students have volunteered for campaign events like the kickoff, during which they drove courtesy golf carts around campus for visiting alumni.

Macaleser’s last public capital campaign wrapped up in 2000, and Step Forward’s current phase will last three years. In these public phases, students can influence alumni to remain involved even during non-campaigning times, Hamre said.

“The best thing about the campaign has been seeing students participate,” she said.