12 May 2009

Donations make record impact on student life

Photo: Scholarship event

Over 100 University staff, students and alumni (former students) came together last week to celebrate a record number of student scholarships and awards made possible by donations from alumni, staff, parents and friends.

Thanks to a large number of donations from individuals, this year the University was able to award over £100,000 worth of scholarships for gifted students to help them with the costs of university – more than ever before. In addition, £21,000 was awarded in small grants to student clubs, societies, welfare, volunteering and other extra-curricular projects. This great achievement was celebrated last week at a reception in Firth Hall, hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Keith Burnett.

Modest gifts fund record number of scholarships

As part of the celebrations, 32 undergraduate students were presented with a cheque for the first instalment of their Alumni Fund Scholarship, worth £3,000 each. Alumni Fund Scholarships are created by donations to the Alumni Fund, the annual mail and telephone fundraising appeal to alumni, parents, and current and former staff. Almost 2,000 individuals support the Alumni Fund every year, with donations ranging from £5 to £5,000. Alumni Fund Scholarships are awarded to students from each of the five faculties – and since 2003 more than 250 students have been helped with these important awards.

In addition to 32 new undergraduate scholarships, Alumni Fund donations also funded eight new postgraduate scholarships for students on one-year taught Master's degree programmes, worth £2,000 each; and alumni donations to the University of Sheffield in America, Inc. (the University’s sister organisation in the USA) funded ten USA Study Abroad Scholarships for American students to study in Sheffield on the University’s Study Abroad programme.

Photo: Scholarship event

Student societies give back

Entertainment was provided by representatives from some of the student clubs and societies who have received Alumni Foundation grants over the past year. The Photography Society put on an impressive exhibition of their recent work; and the assembled guests enjoyed two very different performances from the Hip-Hop Dance Society and the Wind Society.

The Alumni Foundation Committee, which is made up of staff, students and alumni, meets three times per year to award grants of between £500 and £2,000. These grants help to support and enhance the excellent range of extra-curricular activities for which Sheffield is famous. Through their involvement with clubs and societies, students are able to develop a whole range of talents and life skills, such as budgeting, organisation and communication skills, that will serve them well after they have graduated.

Youngest donor awards cheques

The scholarship students were presented with their cheques by one of our youngest donors, Stephen Pillinger (BA Biblical Studies and Philosophy 2008). During his time at University, Stephen was a member of the Alumni Fund student telephone fundraising team, calling alumni in the evenings to raise funds for student support. Upon graduation, he immediately set up a regular standing order donation to the Alumni Fund, becoming a founder member of the Sheffield Pioneers gift club for donors aged under 30, and also a member of the Silver Arrows Circle for regular donors.

Stephen said: “Handing out the scholarships was fantastic. It was a chance to see what it is, and who it is, I’ve been investing in as a student caller and as a donor. I was especially glad to feel a peer-to-peer connection with each person, and I hope that the event can encourage more young people to give and become a part of the great work that the Alumni Fund is doing.”

“Your gifts are an investment in the future”

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Keith Burnett, thanked all those present for their support, saying “These bright young people are our future – who knows what they will go on to achieve?

“As Vice-Chancellor, one of the best parts of my role is meeting alumni and friends like you who believe in the University and in young people like these, and who give so generously of your time, your expertise and your donations to help our students fulfil their potential. Thank you so much for your generosity.”

Professor Burnett also paid tribute to his predecessor, Professor Bob Boucher, CBE, who very sadly and suddenly passed away last month, and who was a driving force behind the University’s renewed efforts to raise additional funds for scholarships.

To find out more about our scholarship programme and/or about the University’s Alumni Fund, please contact Ruth Stanley, Head of Annual Giving, on (tel) 0114 222 1075, (email) r.e.stanley@sheffield.ac.uk. Alternatively, visit the Alumni Fund web pages below.