From the Archives: Giving Tradition

Lindsey Loeper ’04, American Studies, is an archivist at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery.

Lindsey LoeperIdeally the months leading up to a student’s graduation contribute to a sense of accomplishment and momentum in pursuing life goals. Maybe your thoughts turn to your relationship with your university: How has it shaped you, and how did you successfully shape your experience and your campus community?

Maybe those thoughts inspire you to make a financial contribution to your class legacy. Class gifts are a way of making a difference for future generations following in your wake. Often these gifts take the form of a physical artifact, like the Testudo statute at College Park, donated by that university’s Class of 1933.

The first senior project that I can locate in UMBC’s history is from 1970. The class of 1970 is often referred to as the Founding Class, because the graduates were the first group to complete all four years of their degree at UMBC. As in the origin stories of many of our campus traditions, UMBC students decided to forge their own path. During the Spring 1970 semester, a group of seniors organized to collect donations from the UMBC community as well as area businesses. Their goal was to establish a campus fund to assist students that were having trouble paying their full tuition bill.

from The Retriever, May 5, 1970

from The Retriever, May 5, 1970

According to the 1970 edition of Skipjack, the early UMBC student yearbook, the final total collected was $13,000, which is equivalent to more $75,000 today! For in-state students in 1970, a year of tuition at UMBC cost just $506, so a $13,000 emergency fund would have helped quite a few of them continue taking classes and working toward their degrees.


The seniors thanked the donors for helping them reach their goal by organizing several volunteer events in the area. They helped to complete repair and renovation work at the School of the Chimes and two Community Action centers.

There is something about the idea of rewarding contributors and organizers by arranging community service projects that feels uniquely UMBC to me. Community connections and the idea of service as a way of leaving a legacy have continued to motivate and inspire both students and staff. The Maryland Charity Campaign, the Shriver Peaceworker Fellows Program, and the recent Career Week clothing drive are only three examples of this campus tradition in practice.

Class gifts at UMBC in the past 20 years have included new benches near the Library to encourage the community to gather outside; improvements to the campus entrance; the preservation of campus green spaces; and the establishment of a Book Award in memory of UMBC student Jamie Heard.

If any students are interested in establishing a class gift, please contact Dayna Carpenter, Associate Director of Annual Giving: You might also be interested in the Student Alumni Association, which is open to all current students.

Contact the author, Lindsey Loeper, at (410) 455-6290 or



  1. […] a guest post on UMBC’s Breaking Ground blog, UMBC archivist Lindsey Loeper ’04, American studies, recently uncovered evidence of a truly […]

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