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Students Give Big to Programs They Love

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40 Hours for the Forty Acres breaks fundraising goalBy Jamey Smith

Reaching a goal is a fine thing. Blowing right by it? Even better. In a sign that the UT community is as generous as it is passionate, students, alumni, and friends gave more than three times the fundraising goal of the inaugural 40 Hours for the Forty Acres.

Utilizing social media, as well as a campus event and the UTalk Call Center, 40 for Forty aimed to raise $40,000 for the university in 40 hours. The tally when the countdown ended: 2,104 donations totaling $128,516. Organizers had hoped to attract at least 400 student donors; they got more than 900.

Students, invited to donate any amount to a favorite program or cause, gave to their colleges and schools and to a variety of other programs, including Women in Engineering, Rio Grande Valley Scholars, UT Elementary School, the University Libraries, Texas Student Media, and Horns Helping Horns.

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Samira Chary, a member of the Class of 2015 from San Antonio, donated to the School of Human Ecology. “UT is where I have had my most valuable experiences,” the nutrition major says. “I want the same opportunities to be available for future generations.”

The University relies on philanthropy to counter Texas’ ongoing decline in state support for higher education, and efforts like 40 for Forty help close the funding gap. Moreover, the participation of students and alumni in such giving campaigns can boost UT’s national rankings.

“I designated my gift to the Spanish and Portuguese Department,” says Greg Peña, a finance/Hispanic studies senior from Brownsville. “I really value the department’s programs, and it’s a nice feeling knowing I’m helping them to continue.”

Freshman Amanda Koif of Forney, an architectural engineering major, gave to the Friends of Alec program in the Cockrell School “to show my support for UT and allow the University to continue to provide the best faculty and resources for students.”

Based on this first year’s numbers, it’s a safe bet that 40 Hours for the Forty Acres will be back next spring. But as for that $40,000 goal — how about another zero?

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