EWU Historians Shape the Future with Student-Centered Philanthropy

[ February 2016 | Vol. 2 | Issue 2 ] 

Before he became chair of the History Department, Li Ping Zhu was an infrequent EWU donor. “Once in a while I wrote a check,” he says. But, when Zhu became chair, he began to consider ways to increase the History Department scholarship fund. If their students can accrue less debt during school, they have more time to seek out and land jobs in their field of study after graduation.

Zhu knew that history department faculty and staff were already watching out for their students financially. The department maintains a small textbook fund and professors are known to give students a little cash when they observe their protégés struggling with finances. But, the department’s scholarship endowment, which has potential to offer predictable and substantial help to students was stagnant. So, Zhu set out to recruit his colleagues into the EWU donor pool by encouraging them to give through payroll deduction.

Zhu says, “Giving through a payroll deduction is easy and you don’t feel it at all. A few dollars a month add up. And, with President Cullinan’s matching gift, we get more return on our investment. With the president’s match, a $25 per paycheck gift adds up to $1,200 in one year!” Most have dived in. Retirees and even neighbors of faculty are contributing with the goal to build the history department’s scholarship fund to $25,000—the threshold required for making an annual scholarship payout.

DonorSpotlight

Meanwhile, the department is offering as many smaller scholarships as they can each year because these donors know that scholarships offer much more than a financial boost.

Pictured with her professors, Anastasia, a 2015-16 scholarship recipient, wrote in her thank you letter, “I doubt that I would have been able to find a faculty elsewhere that would have helped me as much as you have. My studies would not continue without the funding that I’ve been granted in my last year here at Eastern. To have the history faculty choose me to receive this scholarship has not only helped me to finance my studies, but has also reassured me that the History Department sees me as a viable student…worth [their] effort and support.”

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