Class of 2013 eyes gift record

March 5, 2013

Students at the class gift kickoff event

Students at the class gift kickoff event

The MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2013 is aiming high, unveiling last week an ambitious goal to see a record number of classmates contribute to the student class gift before commencement.

They have less than 100 days to pull it off.

In 2011, 89 percent of graduating MBA students contributed to the class gift. That record still stands. Eighty-seven percent of the MBA Class of 2012 gave to the class gift last year to support the MIT Sloan Annual Fund.

“We looked at the numbers, as we tend to do at MIT, and we saw what Sloan classes have been able to achieve in the past years, which is in the high 80s,” said Lindsay Wilber, the student co-chairing the class gift committee with Hannah Steiman. “And we said ‘There’s really no reason we can’t get there.’ ”

“I think it would be a great legacy for the Class of 2013 to leave behind,” she said.

The gift committee kicked off its campaign Feb. 25 with the Commencement Countdown Party at the MIT Faculty Club. More than 30 faculty members joined more than 150 students for food, drink, conversation, and a short program of speakers who reiterated that attending MIT Sloan is only the first part of a lifelong connection with the school, its students, its faculty, and other alumni.

“Please remember we are committed to you,” applied economics professor Roberto Rigobon told the students. “Not just now, but for the rest of your life. You are part of this community, you will continue to be part of this community, and we will treat you that way.”

Rigobon, who received his PhD from MIT, is the co-founder of the Billion Prices Project, a real-time, data driven index of prices and inflation. Started with seed money provided by the MIT Sloan Annual Fund—which is in turn funded by each year’s class gift and other alumni contributions—the Billion Prices Project was named to The New York Times’ annual Year in Ideas list and continues to be a leading guide for predicting inflation trends. Rigobon developed the project with Assistant Professor Alberto Cavallo, MBA ’05.

Bellwether faculty research and projects like the Billion Prices Project are an example of what the annual fund helps to finance. Contributions to the fund are unrestricted giving, allowing the School’s leadership to target the money where it will have the most impact, whether that be enhancements to academic programs, the development of new teaching technologies, or facility and campus improvements.

This year, students may also choose to direct their class gift contributions to support a few specific areas of the annual fund: future student fellowships, the student experience at MIT Sloan, support of faculty research, funding of MIT Sloan’s global initiatives, or the general unrestricted annual fund. In any case, a contribution to the class gift is made in recognition of the support provided by alumni and in turn supports future students at the School. Speaking at last week’s party, MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein emphasized that sustained giving from alumni benefited the Class of 2013 through funding fellowships, campus building and developments, student activities, and the faculty.

“Their giving, honestly, is what made your experience great,” Schmittlein said. “It gave it the quality and the character that it has had.”

In pursuit of the record, Wilber and her colleagues on the class gift committee will reach out personally to each member of the class, while making their own gifts to support the initiative. However, the committee itself consists of 31 students—8 percent of the Class of 2013—up from 20 students last year. So they have a good start.

The MBA class gift includes students in MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations program, a dual degree in management and engineering. The Office of External Relations, which oversees the execution of the class gift, also works with the School’s other master’s programs on their class gifts.