College Wins Participation on First Giving Day

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Dean Rosemary Blieszner (center) joined some of Giving Day team members for a little frivolity. Note the “VT” salute that includes a Marching Virginians director Dave McKee bobblehead.
Dean Rosemary Blieszner (center) joined some of Giving Day team members for a little frivolity. Note the “VT” salute that includes a Marching Virginians director Dave McKee bobblehead.

Everyone knew Virginia Tech’s inaugural Giving Day would entail a great deal of work. But few expected it to be so much fun.

“The Hokie spirit was alive and well on Giving Day,” said Rosemary Blieszner, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

The first to show his spirit was Jerry Hulick, who graduated in 1973 with a degree in political science. Soon after Giving Day was announced, Hulick became the university’s first graduate to offer a challenge grant. He ended up awarding the college two challenge grants totaling $10,000.

With his help, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences garnered the highest overall participation in the entire university, for which it received a $1,000 challenge grant from Vice President of Advancement Charles Phlegar.

Rivalry for bragging rights continued into the waning moments of Giving Day, as the College of Engineering trailed by just a few donors. Ultimately, the College of Engineering earned second place and the College of Science earned third.

Blieszner in turn issued dean’s challenges to the college’s departments and schools, for both amount raised and total number of donors. In response, the departments and schools waged a friendly competition of their own.

When one department tweeted that there was still time to overtake the Marching Virginians’ lead, the Spirit of Tech tweeted a gif of Marcia Brady shaking her head and saying, patronizingly, “Oh, Jan.”

Brian Britt with BaconThe most creative tweet has to have come from the Department of Religion and Culture, which, in a last-ditch effort to climb the leaderboard, offered to throw a bacon party. The chair of the department, Brian Britt, a highly respected scholar of Christianity, found himself Photoshopped onto a retro image of a suburban barbecue chef. The tweet went viral.

Led by Director David McKee, the Marching Virginians marched into first place on both the dean’s challenge grants.

But the entire college community pitched in — with donations, tweets, and personal pleas — all to an incredible result.

The final totals for the college were just over $101,134 from an official total of 799 donors.

“With this first-ever Giving Day, we’ve raised more than funds for our programs,” Blieszner said. “We’ve also inspired a broader appreciation of the power of philanthropy to strengthen our college and all it offers our students, our community, and the world.”