by Carolyn Arnold
Why do alumni give back to Fairfield University? A common thread that seems to unite all donors is that they support Fairfield to ensure that prospective students can build the same memories that they have.
For young alumni, their Fairfield experiences not so far behind them, but philanthropy isn’t usually on their minds right after graduation because of immediate priorities such as starting careers and families.
But by encouraging alumni to stay in touch, attend events, and participate in whatever way they can, the office of Alumni Relations has seen a promising increase among young alumni engagement and donations in the past three years.
Kim LoPiano ’04, director of Young Alumni and Student Giving Programs, reported that young alumni donor participation has been steadily increasing each year, with a 35 percent increase since 2009.
Besides growing participation by 12 percent from 2012, the Class of 2013 achieved 30 percent participation for their class gift. This is an increase from 2010, when only 6 percent of the graduating class contributed to their senior class gift.
“Participation has grown a lot over the past few years,” LoPiano said. “Part of it is attributed to the growth of the student philanthropy program (known as “Stags Give Back”) and creating more awareness of what they do. Now, students leave Fairfield having a general idea of why it’s important to give back.”
LoPiano, who graduated in 2004 with a major in sociology and anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), said, “For myself, as an alumna, I didn’t quite get it at first. But then I realized how much Fairfield has given me. I met my husband here; I got my first job through an internship that Dr. Kurt Schlichting helped set up; all of my friends are here. Fairfield has done so much for me and means so much to me, so of course I want to give back and make sure the next generation of students can have those same experiences.”
Gerald Sauvigne ’09, who majored in accounting at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, said that giving back to Fairfield has always made sense to him. “It was something I always wanted to do and believed in,” he said. “I give back to Fairfield because it brought me into my life in the same way that my high school brought me to Fairfield. I’m grateful for the experiences and the opportunities.”
Sauvigne made the most of his time at school, spending a semester abroad in Florence and making lasting friendships with faculty such as Dr. Milo Peck, assistant professor of accounting. He also fondly remembered late night study sessions at the Dolan School of Business where a study group stayed so long that they were accidentally locked into the building.
“It’s easy to write a check and I hope to be more active in the alumni association going forward,” Sauvigne said. He currently works at Sauvigne and Company, an accounting firm in New York launched by his uncle Christopher, an alumnus from 1982. Both of his sisters also attended Fairfield — Kristen ’10 and Elizabeth,who will graduate in 2014 — giving him ample reason to return to campus and visit.
Alumni are likely to see Kelly Young Falcone ’10 history major from CAS and currently a teaching assistant in New York, at Stags basketball games or other alumni events such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York.
“The first year out I joined the young alumni groups because it’s easy to stay in touch with your close friends, but I wanted to be in touch with fringe friends and people in my classes,” she said. She and her new husband Eric Falcone ’08, who just celebrated his five-year reunion at Fairfield, attend many of the events that the Office of Alumni Relations sponsors to help alumni keep in touch.
Falcone also participates in the Student Phonathon run by the Office of Annual Giving. “I always tell people that I give back because I feel like I got so much from Fairfield. And it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference. I can spare five dollars and not get Dunkin Donuts coffee and give it to Fairfield instead.”
Ultimately, she wants to make sure that new students have the chance to have the same experiences that she has had, and tries to convey that to young alumni when she calls. “It’s a challenge to call someone you don’t know,” Falcone said, “But the important thing to do is to listen to their memories — the more you talk together, the more it fills you up and you want to do something about it.”
Samantha Krivensky ’14 is the current chair of the Stags Give Back Committee. A psychology major in CAS, Krivensky has been working with her committee to raise philanthropic awareness on campus by hosting events and informing students how to stay involved with the University once they graduate. “Students don’t start out knowing how important it is to ‘pay it forward’ so others can have the same Fairfield experience,” she said.
As the first person in her family to go to college, Krivensky said that she didn’t understand how much alumni contribute to her current experience until she got involved with the committee.
“I’ve studied abroad, I’ve been part of a lot of clubs, and I have an academic scholarship and a research grant. Fairfield gave me all of these opportunities and I know it’s because alumni give back and believe in what we’re doing,” she said.