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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee seniors are asking their fellow classmates to show their appreciation to the university by making donations to UT programs.

The Senior Gift program committee is encouraging graduating seniors to give back to the university by donating to any UT program the donor may wish. For example, an individual could choose to donate to a certain scholarship fund, college, or a sorority housing project.

The campaign will begin at the start of spring semester and continue through graduation.

Seniors can make any size donation, but the committee suggests $35. Students who donate this amount will receive a commemorative Senior Gift 2005 ink pen, as well as an engraved brick in Circle Park.

All donors will receive a subscription to Tennessee Alumnus magazine and will be recognized in the commencement program.

“The overall goal of the campaign is boosting the number of senior participants,” said Karah Shelly, senior gift committee chairperson.

“We are not necessarily concerned with a target dollar amount. We are evaluating our success by the number of participants, no matter how much they donate,” she said.

Senior gift began in 1991 as a chance for seniors to give back to the university and leave their mark for generations to come, Shelly said.

“We will be asked to ‘give back’ as alumni, and senior gift is a wonderful way to begin this process.

“The class of 2002 was the first to begin the idea of giving back to UT programs instead of trying to raise money for a physical gift,” she said.

“When the committee chose only one gift the number of senior participants was low because not everyone could agree upon the single gift. However, by giving to any program at UT that one may wish, each senior can have a say in where their donation goes,” Shelly said.

Last year there were 476 donors, which was the highest participation rate since the senior gift program began in 1991.