Annie Dempsey likely wouldn’t be at the George Washington University without her scholarship.
“I wouldn’t have been able to attend this university without it, so that’s something I’m always grateful for,” said Ms. Dempsey, a senior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of financial aid from the E.K. Morris Education Fund.
Ms. Dempsey was one of many students contemplating philanthropy Wednesday at GW Flag Day, an event recognizing alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends who give back to the university. She and nearly 1,000 members of the GW community, including President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman, braved the colder weather and threat of rain to write notes to donors and thank them for their support.
“Without donations,” Ms. Dempsey said, glancing around the Mid-Campus Quad, “a lot of this wouldn’t be possible.”
Signs around campus—in Science and Engineering Hall, at the School of Business and outside Gelman Library—reinforced that point. Nearly two-thirds of all undergraduate students at GW receive need- or merit-based financial assistance. More than 22,000 alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the university made a donation to GW last year to strengthen student resources, capital projects or academic programs.
Support comes in many forms, said Jessica Allen, a Columbian College sophomore. She spent several hours Wednesday volunteering at Kogan Plaza, where people filled out handwritten notes thanking donors.
“This is a very visual thing,” she said. “I’ve seen staff from a lot of different offices, I’ve seen deans come by. A lot of students are writing about their student organizations and things they are studying here—things that wouldn’t be possible without support.”
Ms. Allen and more than 600 of her classmates made their own donations to GW throughout the day, unlocking a $5,000 gift from an anonymous donor that contributed to nearly $10,000 in support of student life. On Thursday, more than 200 GW alumni also made gifts to the university, matched by a group of donors, including members of the Parents Campaign Philanthropy Board. That effort raised more than $41,000 in support of student life, academic research, and scholarships.
“I am incredibly proud to hear of our students’ support of GW Flag Day, especially a time when many are focused on working hard to pay for their own education,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski. “That’s a tremendous response in a short time frame, and we are grateful for their support, which will help us to enhance the GW student experience.”
GW Flag Day carries extra symbolic value. More than 2,500 blue-and-white Commander-in-Chief flag buttons were handed out Wednesday. Said to be personally designed by George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief flag traveled everywhere he went during the Revolutionary War, emblematic of the general and the cause for which he fought. GW has adopted the flag as a symbol of Making History: The Campaign for GW, using it Wednesday to mark campus locations where philanthropy has made a difference. The flag represents a common goal of generating philanthropic support, and perpetuates Washington’s vision of a university in the nation’s capital that would serve as America’s intellectual hub.
“I think it’s a pretty cool idea and way to bring George Washington into the campaign,” said Ms. Dempsey, a history major and Colonial Ambassador. “And the notes and cards make this day a little more personal and meaningful. Some of them are really heartfelt.”