Leaving a Legacy: celebrating 30 years of faculty and staff giving
Faculty and staff members at Grand Valley are dedicated to educating students, by giving their time and talent to help shape students lives. In addition to these contributions, many faculty and staff members also choose to give back to the university in the form of financial support. Though faculty and staff members have always given to Grand Valley, Mary Seeger initiated the first formal annual giving campaign in 1983. Seeger began working at Grand Valley in 1965. She retired in June 2005 as dean of Advising Resources and Special Programs but her legacy continues on campus today.
This year, the Faculty and Staff Campaign celebrates its 30th year. Grand Valley Magazine talked to Seeger about the creation of the campaign and its impact on the university and its students.
Mary Seeger, retired dean of Advising Resources and Special Programs, helped established the Faculty and Staff Campaign, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Q: Why did you come to Grand Valley?
Seeger: I came as a faculty member in the fall of 1965. My husband is from Grand Rapids and was a student of (then president) James Zumberge at the University of Michigan back in the 50s. His mother said to him, Your professor, Zumberge, has his own college. So we drove out there and there was nothing but a card table with a model on it. There were no buildings, no excavations, just nothing. Our friends thought we were absolutely crazy.
Q: What inspired you to create a formal faculty and staff annual giving campaign?
Seeger: There were certainly individuals who gave, but there was no concerted effort at all. I got interested while helping Nancee Miller (retired director of Alumni Relations) get started. Before she started the alumni campaign, one of her assignments was to work with me to see if we could get a campaign going with our faculty and staff.
Q: What were your expectations for this campaign when you first conceived it?
Seeger: I joke and say that when you have an idea at Grand Valley, if you throw it out there, someone will assign you to do it. And that is what happened. I dont think we had a specific goal in mind. We were delighted as the percentage of participants rose and then somebody got the idea that it would be nice if we could get to 50 percent participation, and that just sort of happened along the way.
Q: What were some unexpected challenges you met in creating the faculty/staff campaign?
Seeger: Well, in the very first days, there really wasnt any staff help. The campaign was primitive at first. Nancee and I stuffed the envelopes ourselves, and it took on a life of its own. I think that keeping up the enthusiasm and getting the numbers up when the pool of employees started getting bigger were the biggest challenges.
Q: There was a participation rate of 55 percent last year. What do you feel has been the catalyst for that kind of growth?
Seeger: Well, there has been more effort on it with many staff volunteers. Its become much more professional and organized. Its also part of our culture. This community has been extremely generous to this institution and we pay it back in various ways, not just with volunteer service, but with some of our own cold, hard cash.
Q: What do you think attracts faculty and staff to want to work at Grand Valley?
Seeger: Our growth over the past 50 years has been incredible and I think younger faculty like to go to a place that looks like its on the move.
Q: What inspired you to first come here?
Seeger: The model on the card table. Grand Valley was a place of opportunity and a place where I could use my interests and my talents at a time when the university needed them.
Q: What are your hopes for the future regarding the campaign?
Seeger: If participation could continue to grow at the rate it has been, that would be incredible. It benefits the institution and the campaign when were located in a place where theres a history of family giving.
Q: The Faculty and Staff Campaign generously supports scholarships for students at Grand Valley. What kind of impression do you think this support makes on the lives of students?
Seeger: I still keep in touch with students who graduated years ago and these scholarships have made a tremendous impression. It makes a real difference to know that the faculty and staff members here have a vested interest in their students and are willing to make an investment in their future. Weve worked really hard to maintain that personal touch, which is difficult to do at a school as large as Grand Valley, but thats the legacy that we want to leave. We want our students to know that we want them to succeed.
February is Matching Gift Month
Did you know that you can multiply the impact of your gifts to Grand Valley by participating in a matching gifts program? February is Matching Gift Month and the perfect opportunity to find out if your employer matches gifts to nonprofit organizations. Some employers match gifts by doubling and even tripling the value of your gift; others match gifts given by retirees and spouses/partners. This is an easy and effective way to make a difference at Grand Valley. To identify an employer match when giving, visit www.gvsu.edu/give.
Family giving at Grand Valley
Is your son or daughter graduating from Grand Valley this year? If so, honor their accomplishments by giving a gift to Grand Valley in their name. Senior honorariums are a great way to give back to the university that has given your student the skills he or she needs to succeed in the future. Gifts of any size can make a difference in the lives of Grand Valley students. Celebrate your students success and pave the way for future generations with a gift today. For more information about family giving and senior honorariums, visit www.gvsu.edu/giving.
What is Grand Valleys endowment?
Grand Valleys endowment acts like a savings account for the university. The return, or interest earned, on the investment of an endowed fund produces perpetual income for the university. When you give to the endowment, your gift supports the long-term strategic priorities of the university and helps maintain Grand Valleys high standards of academic excellence. Grand Valley has numerous endowment funds that help build financial support for academic programs, scholarships, students and faculty members. To learn more about the universitys endowment, visit www.gvsu.edu/giving/endowment.
Make a gift to GVSU that costs nothing today but leaves legacy
All gifts to Grand Valley are an investment in the future of the university. A planned gift in your will or estate plan is the pinnacle of giving at Grand Valley. Planned gifts cost you nothing today, but will leave a legacy that touches generations to come.
There are many ways to leave a gift for Grand Valley after your lifetime. Bequests are the easiest and most common form of planned giving; however, there are other options to consider as well. All donors who support Grand Valley with a planned gift are recognized in the Gillett Society. For more information on philanthropic planning at Grand Valley, visit