PUBLISHED:May 26, 2010

Class of 2010 rises to the occasion in traditional fundraising effort

The Class of 2010 donated nearly $150,000 to Duke Law School as part of the annual graduating class gift campaign, with contributions from 54-percent of the student body, faculty, parents, and alumni easily exceeding the $100,000 fundraising goal for the effort.

“We are so proud to have exceeded our $100,000 goal, and we believe this is a direct testament to what a terrific experience we’ve had at Duke,” said Kat Shea, one of three class gift co-chairs. “Our slogan for the campaign was ‘Love Duke,’ and it captures what a special situation we have here. I hope this is an indication that our class has begun a strong pattern of giving for years to come.”

Members of this year’s 44-person committee, co-chaired by Shea, John Gochnour, and Carolyn Gillespie, allowed donors to select where to direct their support. Their options included the Duke Law Annual Fund, LLM scholarships, the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), the general scholarship fund, the Dean’s Summer Service Grant Program, the Bridge to Practice Fellowship, and the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), as well as the clinical program or any of the individual clinics.

“This year we emphasized giving people options where to donate and encouraging them give their money to any fund the law school has,” said Gochnour. “There is a lot of employment uncertainty, and in this type of climate, people want to feel personally invested in what they are donating to.”

[Read a profile of John Gochnour.]

A philanthropic tradition at Duke Law, the class gift campaign is intended to produce a cycle of giving whereby the generosity of graduating classes directly benefits existing and future students and provides them with the same opportunities graduates enjoyed during their time at the Law School. Moneys raised support everything from student clubs to scholarships. The campaign also demonstrates graduates’ collective belief in their alma mater to firms, foundations, and prospective students.

“Duke Law School has a strong sense of community with an understanding that one generation of alumni supports another,” said Jeff Coates, associate dean of alumni and development. “The class gift campaign marks a turning of the page for the graduates of 2010 and shows that their support for those who are to follow will be very strong. For this group of classmates to make such a substantial donation to support those who come after them is very impressive.”

Graduating students contributed $101,390 of the money raised during the 2010 class gift campaign. Students had the option of making either one-time or multi-year pledges with payment not due until June 30, 2011, which enables graduates to generate a year’s worth of income before sending money to Duke.

Fourteen members of the Class of 2010 joined the Samuel F. Mordecai Society by making $500 donations to the class gift campaign. Created in 2004, the Mordecai Society traditionally recognizes donors who contribute $1,000 - $2,499 to the Law School annually.

Meanwhile, 12 graduates joined the Law School’s leadership giving society as Barristers. Founded in 1975, the Barrister Society recognizes alumni and friends whose generous support enables Duke to maintain its status as one of the top law schools in the country. Recent graduates of one to five years, as well as judges, educators, and those who work for the government or in public service, can become members of the Barrister Society at $1,000 annually.

Committee member Sheena Paul believes the sense of community at the Law School contributed to the success of the class gift campaign.

“That the class gift campaign was spearheaded by students is a testament to the strong sense of community that builds during time spent at Duke Law,” she said. “Each of us wanted to have a part in perpetuating the community we became a part of during our time here. By giving back, and encouraging our classmates to do so as well, we empower the Law School to continue providing students with incredible experiences and to build and grow the Duke Law family.”

For more information about the campaign, including a full list of the 44-member committee and an honor roll of donors, visit the class gift page.