The Class of 2007 at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law made history as they graduated, providing the largest class gift since the College was founded.
The class already has raised more than $60,000 in pledges and expects to bring in more before their efforts are concluded.
"That is truly extraordinary," said Dean Patricia White, who accepted the gift on behalf of the College and its future students. "It's just an enormous gift."
Mark Lightner, a member of the 2007 Gift Committee, said the effort was inspired by Professor Michael Berch, who met with the class to talk with them about the importance of supporting their alma mater.
"As you might know, no College, public or private, can long exist with a dream of becoming top tier without substantial funding," Berch wrote to the class. "Tuition and legislative grants are just not sufficient."
Berch, who had served as admissions director when the class entered in 2004, said the college needed more money to improve its rankings and continue to attract the best students.
"Frankly, I do not know how we accomplished what we did in acquiring so many great students in 2004," he wrote. "But miracles seldom happen."
Berch started the effort with a personal donation of $5,000.
Lightner said the appeal hit home.
"I think a lot of us really wanted to give, but didn't have a way," Lightner said.
A committee was formed and began taking pledges.
"Everyone has a self interest," Lightner said. "They are giving to an organization they are part of."
Some of the money will support a scholarship in the name of Douglas Eckhardt, a member of the class who died during his second year at law school.
The rest will support other scholarships and projects, including the Sandra Day O'Connor Vanguard Plaza, the Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology and the newly formed Victoria Tandy Award. Tandy is funding a $1,500 per semester award for first- or second-generation immigrants attending the nnor College. Tandy, a 2007 graduate, is an immigrant from Colombia.
The gift committee was comprised of students Lightner, Jan Johnson, Kolby Granville, Shelly Tolman and Tandy.