The Class of 1959 has presented the School of Human Environmental Sciences with more than $400,000, the largest class gift in the school's history. Giving by HES alumnae made up more than half of the class gift for the entire university.
Long hours of study created a tight-knit group that has maintained ties with each other and with the university, says Betty Rowe Penny of Fuquay-Varina, who served as co-chair of the reunion planning committee.
We have a special group of home economists in that '59 class who were dedicated to the school and who were dedicated to their profession, Penny says. Part of being professional is supporting what helped you get where you are.
Some students had time to relax at the Soda Shop (now the Faculty Center), she says, but not the women studying home economics. In addition to forging close bonds, the demands of home economics taught students how to multitask.
A large number of these classmates were in the first wave of women who worked outside the home, she says. We learned to juggle lots of things to do that. Our home economics background prepared us to do that.
Planning for the class gift began more than two years ago, according to Jane Lawrence, director of development for HES. Ann Lee Barnhardt Robbins suggested that a group of classmates get together to discuss the project. Eighteen people met on campus on the cold afternoon of Feb. 13, 2007. Penny made the first gift, which was used to establish a scholarship in HES. After that, gifts flowed in from Connecticut, Michigan, Florida and California.
The remarkable generosity of the class matches the remarkable lives of its members, Lawrence says. Adele Graham became a full bird colonel in the Marine Corps. Sue Ormond Singleton, recipient of the 2009 HES Distinguished Alumna Award, helped start an orphanage in Cambodia. She returned to Cambodia immediately after reunion to continue that work.
These women were on the cutting edge of the feminism movement, Lawrence says. After graduation, they went on to lead enriching lives and successful careers across the country.
Gifts honoring a class's 50th anniversary have been a tradition at UNCG since 1915. Class members are encouraged to give to whatever program, fund, scholarship or other designation has special meaning to them.
The overall class gift of $723,000 is part of the university's Students First Campaign. The campaign was launched July 1, 2004, with a $78.6 million goal, which was later raised to $100 million. Completed on June 30, the campaign raised more than $115 million.