The only thing better than having a door opened for you is opening one for someone else.
Jefferson’s 1824 charter states that “ten indigent young men of talents … shall receive instructions and be entitled to its honors without any charge.” In those days, ten students amounted to nearly half the class, if not more.
Later, the 1832 Annual Announcement of Lectures by the Trustees and Professors continued to express concern about the importance of financial aid. Some students, it noted, “are, from the misfortunes of their families and their restricted pecuniary means, unable to purchase the necessary tickets to enable them to acquire a thorough knowledge of their profession and to graduate.” The students were called “gratuitous students,” those who received a Jefferson education—“a thorough knowledge of their profession”—through the graciousness and generosity of others.
The Philadelphia Textile School—which evolved into Philadelphia University and later into Jefferson—traced a similar path for enrolling, and retaining, the best students through generosity. Speaking at Commencement in 1905, Theodore Search, who founded the school, said, “No effort has been spared to maintain the high excellence of the school, and to guard against ever turning out a man or woman stamped with its approval.”
Search went on to note that during the first 10 years of its existence, the school was supported almost entirely by “gifts of public-spirited individuals, and the funds raised in various ways by trustees and an untiring associate committee of women.”
From its founding (both times), Jefferson has recognized the need for financial assistance to students “of talents.” That philanthropic tradition has carried on to this day, especially through the gift of endowed scholarships.
Here, alumni have long led the way.
Of the 400 named scholarships, more than 80 percent have come from alumni.
Alumni giving is a lineage of generosity that gets handed down from one generation, one class to the next—similar to the legacy of skilled professionalism, thorough knowledge, and creative innovation that alums know embody the ideal of a Jefferson graduate.
When we launched the Reimagine Campaign, Jefferson’s boldest fundraising effort ever, scholarships were a key priority—we set out to empower the leaders of tomorrow’s optimistic revolutions. Then COVID-19 happened, and our students and families were burdened with an enormous, generational toll.
And once again, alumni have stepped up to do the right thing. This academic year, through the Reimagine Scholarship initiative, we’ve already raised nearly $700,000 in scholarships support for Athletics, CABE, DEC, JCHP, JCN, and SKMC. Several alumni have set up matching gifts, encouraging their peers to double or even triple the impact of their generosity.
Scholarship giving strengthens the bond between future alumni and past graduates, and shows current students the importance of alumni in the life of the community.
As an alum, your legacy is about more than what you received in education and experience. It’s about what you give back. It’s also about looking back, and looking ahead. It’s about what you do right now.
Elizabeth A. Dale, EdD, MPA
Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer
Office of Institutional Advancement
Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about the doors you can open and lives you can change. I’d love to hear from you.