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Bill ’71 and Elke Durden Establish Powerful $100,000 Day of Giving Scholarship Challenge

Bill and Elke Durden

Photo by Dan Loh

500 Day of Giving Scholarship Gifts and 3,000 Total Gifts Will Unlock Additional $100,000 in Scholarship Funding

by Matt Getty

For this year’s Day of Giving, Tuesday, April 4, an important figure from Dickinson’s past is making a bold, revolutionary move to help shape the future.

Any guesses to who it might be? Bold … revolutionary … ? No, not Benjamin Rush, though this figure would definitely appreciate that guess. Here’s another hint—bowties.

That’s right, you got it (and the picture and headline gave it away). Former Dickinson president Bill Durden ’71 is back with the $100,000 Durden Day of Giving Scholarship Challenge. Bill and Elke Durden have generously pledged to give $100,000 to scholarships on the Day of Giving if the Dickinson community comes together to make 500 gifts supporting scholarships and reach the day’s overall 3,000 gift goal.

“We’re as excited about Dickinson and its future as ever, and there’s never been a better time to join in to help change lives and change the world through the college and its Campaign for Scholarships,” Bill says. “I’ve always been a proud supporter of Dickinson, but in the last years I’ve been so impressed with President Jones’ leadership through the Dickinson Forward initiative that I felt the need to step up in an even bigger way. And what better time to do it than the Day of Giving, when the entire Dickinson community comes together?”

The Dickinson Forward initiative, which President John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, launched last year is a multifaceted effort to position Dickinson to enhance its excellence through academic and campus life improvements, renewed efforts to engage the alumni community, a new strategic plan and more. The first program launched as part of Dickinson Forward was the Campaign for Scholarships: Change a Life—Change the World, which aims to provide a scholarship for every student who needs one by raising $75 million.

Like more than 3,600 Dickinsonians so far, the Durdens were inspired to make a gift to the campaign, which has generated 75 new endowed scholarship funds and is currently helping to provide scholarships and financial aid for more than 1,800 students. Nearing the $50 million mark, the campaign is making it possible for Dickinson to meet the full demonstrated need of every admitted student.

“In my time as president, it was abundantly clear to me that we can only provide this kind of intensive, personalized, useful liberal-arts education if we have the scholarships and financial aid needed to enroll students regardless of their financial means,” says Durden, who served as Dickinson’s president from 1999-2013. “As the cost of providing this kind of experience has only continued to rise, scholarship giving is even more important today. Benjamin Rush’s vision of preparing future leaders and engaged citizens is only possible if we can help those future leaders and engaged citizens afford this life-changing education. I am fortunate to have a Dickinson education. It is part of me, part of my identity. And Elke and I appreciate acutely the importance of scholarship as both of us are first-generation college students.”

Dickinson’s Day of Giving seeks to inspire 3,000 gifts from the Dickinson community this year, with scholarships as one of several priorities. With a theme of “Get Your Red Out,” the event also asks donors to proudly wear the Dickinson red, and share photos of themselves to challenge their friends and classmates to join them in making a gift. In addition to scholarships, donors can designate their gifts to support diversity, equity & inclusivity initiatives; the Student Wellness Fund; study abroad; academic programming, the McAndrews Fund for Athletics; or the area of the college about which they’re most passionate. And the Durden challenge is one of several aimed at bringing together Dickinsonians from all over the world.

“It’s exciting to be part of this effort to rally the Dickinson community,” says Durden. “Elke and I are even planning to come back to campus on April 4 to help ‘get the red out’ and inspire other Dickinsonians to join in. So you might hear more from us on the day—and I might even have to see if I can dig out my red bow tie.”


Published March 20, 2023