“Enter to learn, go forth to serve, and then return” is the motto that Keene State College alumnus Bruce LeVine Mellion follows, and hopes to inspire in recent graduates from 2000 to 2011.
Mellion said he hopes to foster this desire to return to KSC through the creation of a challenge posed to recent graduates. Mellion has promised to donate $5,000 to the KSC Fund if recent graduates make 742 donations, or gifts, of any size by March 3.
Why 742? 742 represents the highest number of recent graduate donations.
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Mellion, who graduated in 1969, earned his baccalaureate degree in industrial arts and education, before going on to earn his master’s degree in science at Eastern Michigan University.
He also has taught in Norwalk, Conn. at Brien McMahon High School for 31 years, and became involved with the Norwalk Confederation of Teachers including being president of the association, a position he currently holds. All the time never forgetting, and giving back to, the learning institutions that made his career possible.
Genny Alexander, director of Annual Giving, said, “Last year I believe we had 338 recent graduates between 2000 and 2010 who made a donation.” This year, “We are hoping to double that.” She went on to say that the challenge is not about the size of donations but the number. “About $10 is the average gift size,” Alexander said, but smaller gifts account for a large amount of the total donations every year.
According to Alexander, the idea of a challenge is not entirely new, but a technique Keene has not often employed. “A lot of universities and colleges across the United States hold challenges, but I think this is one of Keene State College’s first,” Alexander said.
The idea of a donation challenge was also a first for Mellion, who said he does not usually donate to the KSC Fund. “I usually donate to special things” Mellion said. “But Genny came up with this and I liked it.”
Alexander explained that the money, which is going into the unrestricted KSC Fund, is allocated by the president. Furthermore, Alexander said, “Gifts that are made to the KSC Fund this year are going to financial aid for current students.”
Mellion said he began his tradition of giving in the early 1980s with the establishment of the Parents’ Fund, in partnership with his brother and sister, to honor their parents. Mellion continued giving back, with the Aurora sculpture outside the library, and continuing throughout the years to promote gifting for recent graduates.
When asked what inspired him to create the challenge, Mellion said, “I am very big about ‘just give back.’ If you go to a college or university and they provide you, of course you have to do your part, with a wonderful education, and because of that you have your entire financial underpinning for the rest of your life. I feel that calls for some give back. It calls for you to give back to the extent that you can.” Mellion said, “I wanted to inspire others to do what they can do. If all you can give is $10 a year that’s fine.” The idea of beginning to give back, no matter the size of the donation, was put forth by both Mellion and Alexander who said that alumni who give back once are more likely to give gifts repeatedly. “What I find hard to believe is that people cannot give back in any way shape or form to a place they spent four years which gave them the financial underpinning for the rest of their life,” Mellion said.
As of Friday night, the gift count stands at about 300 gifts, or 40 percent of the final goal. However, Alexander said that gift giving is picking up as the deadline nears, and she still hopes to reach the goal of 742.
Alexander said that alumni are being encouraged to participate in the challenge both through traditional methods of mail, phone calls and email, but also through social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Depending on the success of the challenge, alumni may be put to the test in the future, or Mellion may direct his efforts in a different direction. “Maybe we did this once and next time we will do something different.,” Mellion said. “I try in everything I do to be very unique in what I do.” Mellion’s own generosity has been apparent according to Alexander, and has set the bar high for other alumni.
Colm Craig can be contacted from firstname.lastname@example.org.