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Why We're Moving Forward With Day of Giving

Margee Ensign video message image.

Margee Ensign video message image.

Dear Dickinsonians,

Like all of you, here at your college we have been facing many and diverse challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the situation, we were in a quandary as to whether to move forward with our annual Day of Giving or to cancel it. However, in some ways, Dickinson alums have taken the choice out of our hands. Many have already reached out to ask how they could help our students, and many inquired about giving to the Emergency Response Fund (ERF), which we just recently established. Our trustees and emeritus trustees are themselves joining together with a significant challenge gift (now over $500,000) toward the ERF, and two young alumni have volunteered to do a live social media challenge in support of the fund. Other alumni stepped forward with challenge gifts.

This generous outpouring of support is one of the main reasons we decided to go ahead with plans for this year's Day of Giving. The eagerness of our alumni to step up and offer support and assistance makes, and will continue to make, an enormous difference not only to the financial well-being of Dickinson, but also to the morale of our students, faculty and staff. This is why the ERF was created and why Dickinson is committed to assisting our students as much as possible during this trying time, and beyond.

So we will proceed with our Day of Giving this Tuesday. We will do so because Dickinson must continue to provide an education that the world needs now more than ever. The short-term impact of COVID-19 on Dickinson is, as you can well imagine, substantial. For an organization that already runs a remarkably lean budget, our current estimate is that we will lose millions. Even so, we must also lift our eyes to the horizon; we must continue to prepare students for lives of leadership and service, just as we have done for 237 years, come what may.

In addition to Dickinson's institutional needs, we must also respond to the individual needs of our community members. The last month has put an enormous strain on our budget due to our having to close our abroad programs, send our study-abroad students home early and on short notice, increase technology expenditures in order to keep classes going, and shoulder shipping expenses for materials like computers to students. Moreover, we also have 143 students still on campus (who could not go home to their families) for whom we need to care.

We know that this is a very tough time for all of us. And we know that many of our alumni are not in a position to offer support right now. But some, perhaps many, are. Based on your outreach so far, our hope is that the Day of Giving will be a day of caring that provides an opportunity for the Dickinson community to come together and support one another during these turbulent times—just as we have always done in the past. 

Thank you, as always, for your loyal support of your college.


Margee Ensign
President, Dickinson College

Published April 6, 2020