Members of the Class of 2007 have left their mark on the University in many ways, primarily through individual achievement. “For the most part, Willamette functions collaboratively across classes,” says Senior Class President Jessica Motais de Narbonne.
The seniors did demonstrate their class spirit by winning the first year of the revived Glee competition, and many won’t leave campus without making that clandestine climb up the cupola of Waller Hall to pen their names for posterity.
But with the approach of Commencement, this year’s graduating class has united in an act of tradition and tribute — the giving of the senior class gift. The Class of 2007 considered giving a scholarship, an awning for the Bistro windows, additional adirondack chairs for the banks of the Mill Stream, or artwork for the Hallie Ford Museum, according to Bob Peck, a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee along with Motais and 10 other ’07 grads. “Class members wanted something different,” Peck says, and as the email votes were tallied, artwork emerged as the gift of choice. The specific piece will be selected by museum director John Olbrantz for the museum’s permanent collections. More important, it will be dedicated as a tribute to Birl Shultz, Kalan Morinaka and Logan Will, all members of the Class of 2007 who died in the last year.
“One of the most important aspects of this year’s gift is that it’s being donated in memory of our lost classmates, all of whom were incredible members both of our class and the Willamette community as a whole,” says committee member Rebecca Moore. “Each of them would have served on this committee,” Peck adds.
The committee put on several fund-raising events throughout the semester, with a goal of $1,500. Thanks to the Presidential Challenge, the amount raised for the senior class gift is matched dollar for dollar, up to $5,000, by President Pelton as a gift to the Willamette Fund in honor of the senior class.
This tradition of giving has been sustained for more than 100 years, according to Corrina Hawkins, associate director of annual giving, who says it used to be that every class would give a gift every year. When a physical gift was financially impossible, “students often did maintenance projects on campus,” Hawkins says, “raking flowerbeds, painting buildings, laying sidewalks and sod.”
The character of today’s campus would be entirely different were it not for the class gifts given over the years. Benches, trees, sidewalks — and scholarships, too. The gateway to Eaton Hall was given by the Class of 1915; the Class of 1917 paved the way for future generations with a gift of sidewalks; the Classes of 1922 and 1925 are to thank for the steps to Cone Chapel in Waller Hall, and Star Trees were a gift from the centennial Class of 1942. Read more about the history of this tradition and see the variety of gifts given over the years
“It is important that our class comes together to present a gift to Willamette University that will continue to represent the Class of 2007 into the future,” says Michelle Gregoire, another member of the committee. Moore agrees. “I really like the idea of continuing a tradition that has a lasting impact on our community.”