UT Thanks Day raises awareness of donor contributions

Mikaela Cannizzo

Students visited Gregory Gym Plaza on Thursday to learn about university funding and sign a giant card thanking donors in honor of the sixth annual UT Thanks Day.

According to Marsha Reardon, student philanthropy and special campaigns coordinator, the University would shut down in early November if it relied on tuition and student fees alone, which comprise only 22 percent of the university’s annual budget. Donors, who fund eight percent of the budget, help keep the university open, Reardon said.

“Ultimately our goal is to have [students] be grateful for their education here and understand that it takes a lot to make this happen,” Reardon said.

While Reardon said the Annual Giving Office does not solicit students for money, she said she wants them to understand how the funding process works and the impact it can have on the lives of students on campus.

“We’re hoping that one day, when students are alumni and are able to give back, they’ll think of us and understand there is a need here,” Reardon said.

According to a document from the Annual Giving Office, the university’s $2.66 billion budget for 2014-2015 is composed of a variety of sources including gifts, research contracts and grants. Reardon said alumni donate a majority of the money in the form of gifts, but students, parents, faculty, staff and individuals who are passionate about UT also give back to the university.

Students Hooked on Texas, a student philanthropy organization under the Annual Giving office, sponsored the event to recognize those who donate to the university.

Keila Crosby, president of the organization and international relations and global studies senior, said she wants students to learn about the importance of donations to the university through the event.

“I just want students on campus to understand what really goes into funding our education,” Crosby said. “There’s a big misconception that UT has all this money and donor support isn’t really necessary, but that’s not true and it is a big part of what makes our education possible.”

Lynna Vo, human development and family sciences junior who volunteered at the event, said she thinks it is important to give back to people who contribute to the UT community.

“Even though I’ve never met these donors, I feel like they’ve impacted my life so much,” Vo said. “They give us all the resources we need and help make this a better place to learn and thrive in.”