Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

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March 02, 2012

Why Give? Donors Explain

Love a DonorUniversity Advancement's Love a Donor Week annually celebrates and thanks those who give monetarily to support Carnegie Mellon.

More than 2,200 thank you notes - the most in the event's three-year history - were penned by students, faculty and staff Feb. 13-17 at various tables across campus and mailed to donors.

Nearly 150 faculty and staff donors were treated to a lunch in the Connan Room, where the Piper spoke to a few donors to find out what compels them to contribute. Here's what they had to say:

Adam Rauf, administrative assistant II, Business Operations, Software Engineering Institute, and president of Staff Council

"Carnegie Mellon has permeated my entire life. Even before I started working here I was always a fan of all of the arts events. ... When I became a member of CMU it was hard to not want to give back to an organization that tends to push new boundaries for the city in general and the world."

Sylvia Berry, assistant business manager, School of Computer Science

"I love Carnegie Mellon. It's one of the best places. I initially started giving because of Nico Haberman, who was the head of the School of Computing, as computer science was called at the time. He passed away, and they had a fund in his name so I started giving because of that. I continued giving because I love Carnegie Mellon."

Ron Placone, assistant vice president for Human Resources

"I think you're investing in the world's future. I can't think of a better place to donate money than Carnegie Mellon, and I get to see first-hand all of the wonderful things done. So for me, it's a no-brainer."

Erika Linke, associate dean of University Libraries

"The reason I give to Carnegie Mellon is much like Ron [Placone] said: Thinking about the future and being a part of something bigger than yourself."

Lisa Krieg, director of Enrollment Services

"I believe it is the right thing to give back to an educational institution. I give to all the places where I attended. I've always given at the universities where I work. It just feels like the right thing to do. ... We're so lucky to work at such a great institution."

Gary Fedder, professor of electrical and computer engineering and robotics, director of the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES)

"I love Carnegie Mellon. It's a great place to work. It does a lot for everyone, students, faculty, staff and I feel blessed to be here."

Asim Smailagic, research professor, ICES

"I would like to see this university progressing in even more intensive research and getting my colleagues and other faculty members to contribute. To contribute to students, to colleges, to education - it's beneficial to all of us."

Jay Morano, director of Trademark Licensing

"The university has given me so much. You can't put a price tag on it. Carnegie Mellon is a great place to work."

Holly Hippensteel, assistant dean of Student Affairs

"I think it's expected that we give our time and energy to our work ...  it may not necessarily be expected that we give financially.  But I see it as my good faith gesture in my belief in the place and that we value it as an institution. And I think it's important to say ...

I'm willing to put my money on the line for this as well. ... I've benefitted so much from this institution, personally and professionally, that it's the least that I could do to give back."

M. Shernell Smith, coordinator of Student Development, Office of Student Affairs

"I think it's important to be a role model for our students. ... I feel like this is a place where we talk about our heart being in the work. ... So when I see student initiatives, and projects that are service learning or traveling abroad or that are cultural or multicultural events, I know that sometimes there's a little extra that we can give. So it's important for me as someone who advises certain student organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, to ensure that I'm doing a little bit extra ... to be a really great role model."

Sarah Belousov, project manager, TechBridgeWorld, Robotics Institute

"I think Carnegie Mellon is an outstanding institution, not only an educational leader around the world, but also as a nonprofit organization. ... Carnegie Mellon is certainly one of those outstanding groups that is making a difference around the world. I am a donor to TechBridgeWorld as well. And I think that what we're doing, and what other groups around the university are doing, both here in the U.S. and also other parts of the world, is exciting."

Alice Bright, serials librarian, University Libraries

"I'm a third-generation alum. My father and my grandfather went here as undergraduates, and my grandfather was the registrar here for a time. I just had such a wonderful time as an undergraduate, and my closest friends are women that I met as a freshman. I've just enjoyed working here."

Chris Nolin, senior project manager, Computing Services

"Being an alum and a staff member I feel like this is such a strong community, that it really goes back to Andrew Carnegie and 'my heart is in the work.' I feel like I contribute my job but I also contribute financially to the ongoing success of all of the students. There are great kids here, and I want to keep it going for my own children and others, too. I love this place."

Pattye Stragar, fitness operations manager, Department of Athletics

"I love Carnegie Mellon. It's a great place to work. I'm not only an employee but also a parent so I want to give back to the university for myself and for my children. I donate to the Athletic Department. I just wish that everybody would give something. Because even if it's just a little, it all adds up."

Madelyn Miller, director of Environmental Health & Safety

"I feel like this university has become part of my family. ... I love so much what this university is about that I feel like donating is a very important part of my life."

Don Coffelt, director of Facilities Management Services

"The university has given so much to me. Aside from working here, my son graduated from here, and I graduated from here, and so it's sort of like paying back this incredible debt one little bit at a time."

Mark Dorgan, executive director of major gifts, University Advancement

"I felt that I needed to support the university because of everything that's going on here and what the university has done for me and my career. And I'm happy to support a variety of programs on campus. It's a privilege to do that and to work here. ... It's important for me to lead and set an example."

Ermine Teves, project assistant, Robotics Institute

"I choose to donate because ... I'm CMU all through. I did my undergrad here, I'm working here now, and I'm doing my master's. CMU has given me a lot. I'm really happy to give back."

To make your donation for 2012, go to

Andrew Bova (A '11, '12} writes a thank you letter to donors.