Occidental’s office of Institutional Advancement (IA) brings in upwards of 15 million dollars in donations each year thanks to the generosity of alumni, outside foundations and bequests, among other sources. To accomplish this, the office takes the time to research potential donors and cultivate relationships with them.
In order for the college to continue to bring in money for necessities such as the endowment and the annual fund, it is paramount to maintain relations with donors, which requires accommodating the donors’ wishes for how their donations are to be used.
Beyond that, at a college where the students’ educations are the ultimate goal, IA should make a more holistic effort to reach out to the student body. While funding for scholarships and construction projects such as the renovation of the Taylor Pool and the Academic Commons are important, there is still virtually no established communication between IA and the student body in determining the allocation of these funds. It would be helpful to compile a list of student testimonials — suggesting areas of campus that they believe need attention — which donors could peruse to get a sense of the students’ needs.
The fastest potential solution would be to create a student advisee board within Institutional Advancement or to hold public meetings in which students can be able to voice their opinions to IA about what areas of campus or the curriculum need to be focused on most.
With bringing student input to the table of IA, donors who sit at that same table would see that student education is the most important part of this campus to fund. Donors would continue to support scholarships. At the same time, donors would have a sense of the urgency for needs to update the parts of campus that have been neglected, instead of merely improving the cosmetics or adding unnecessary luxuries. As much as having a more aesthetically pleasing Academic Commons to study in is important, students need a functioning chemistry hall even more, or acceptable living quarters, or a curriculum that actually offers Black studies. The front line is where the college can actually begin to make this change.
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