From now until Giving Day: The Wolf Pack Way on April 11, donors, alumni, students, faculty and members of the community can double their impact when they give to the College of Science’s Student Emergency Fund. Thanks to a generous matching offer from two alumni, any donations up to $50,000 will be matched.
The College of Science Student Emergency Fund provides support for students who are facing a financial crisis.
“It is hard to overstate the importance of the College of Science Student Emergency Fund to our ability to aid students who may be struggling to stay the course towards their degrees and post-graduation success,” Leigh Fitzpatrick, the College of Science’s development director, said.
The matching offer comes from two alumni, Ryan and Elaine Dotson, who want to give back in a big way.
Elaine graduated from the University with her bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry in 2002, and again with her master’s degree in hydrogeology in 2010. Part of her master’s thesis was added to a U.S. Geological Survey professional paper. After having two children, Elaine taught second and third grade for four years.
Ryan, who was named the College of Science’s Professional Achievement Awardee in 2023, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University in applied mathematics in 2003. He continued at the University to earn his master’s degree in mathematics and graduated in 2005. Ryan has developed three technology companies, the first of which he started when he was in high school, and another that was used by entities including NASA and the Department of Defense. Ryan sits on the College of Science Advisory Council (COSAC), and now works as an advisor and investor. His latest investment, which will have a profound impact, is the matching offer he and his wife have made.
“Leigh brought up the need a few times over the past year in our COSAC meetings,” Ryan said. “So, it was kind of on my radar, something that we wanted to support. As we got further along, it seemed like a matching program would be a good way to double the impact and maybe raise awareness and try to pull some others into supporting it.”
Bridging the gap
Ryan said that one of the Dotsons’ main goals was to help students bridge the gap during difficult times. Faced with severe inflation and high rent, just a couple hundred dollars can be the difference between students at the University being able to pay for tuition and being forced to delay their education or drop out.
One student, a single parent of two, needed help paying rent for a month while between jobs. Without the ability to pay rent, the student would have had to drop out. Now they are on track to graduate in December.
A student, whose family had to flee to Turkey after the American withdrawal in Afghanistan, needed support because his family no longer had access to their bank accounts, and was able to continue their coursework.
A student who was dropped from classes due to non-payment was able to get reinstated and finish their last semester last year with support from the fund.
One student’s apartment burnt down, and that student was provided funding to pay for their family’s food before insurance kicked in.
These are just a few examples of the significant impact the student emergency fund has had on students recently. The appreciation messages the development team receives from students who receive funding show how dire their needs were, and how impactful the funding is.
“I would appreciate if I can use the funding towards a bike or even a bus pass to go to the University.”
“The emergency fund has truly impacted my ability to be on track to graduate next spring semester.”
“Thank you for your investment in students like me.”
“I hope to pay this kind act forward someday.”
“I used the money to eat.”
“Sometimes I can't afford my books and end up not able to do homework in the beginning of the semester.”
“The College of Science emergency funds help me pay for groceries and gas to get to school.”
“I appreciate this opportunity regardless of if I am awarded this or not.”
“This is an incredible opportunity to show compassion for our students who may be facing stressful financial situations, and to double the impact,” Louisa Hope-Weeks, dean of the College of Science, said.
Donations for the College of Science Student Emergency Fund will be doubled until Giving Day: The Wolf Pack Way on April 11. Any questions about the fund can be directed to Leigh Fitzpatrick.