From a Saturday Night Live-style “cold open” with a dean who can’t quite tie a bow tie to an Honors neuroscience major performing Indian classical dance, the Irvin D. Reid Honors College’s Zoom to the Finish! event last month contained many delightful surprises.
But the biggest, and most important, surprise was how the event exceeded fundraising goals — generating more than $32,000 for the new Finish Line Fund, which will provide scholarships for outstanding Honors College seniors. The total raised included a $10,000 matching gift from Wayne State University President Emeritus Irvin D. Reid, the Honors College’s namesake, who was interviewed during the event.
By popular demand, the college is hosting an encore watch party at 9 p.m. on Oct. 29. Reid and Interim Provost Laurie Lauzon Clabo plan to attend and participate in the live watch party chat box.
“We were so impressed by the level of support,” said Honors College Dean John Corvino. “Not only did the event create a healthy foundation for the endowment, but it also opened conversations with donors about larger planned gifts.”
In addition to raising money, the Zoom to the Finish! event — which included interviews, student performances and running commentary from Corvino — showcased the Honors College while offering a diversion from the stress of the times.
The Finish Line Fund provides financial support for Honors students in their senior year, allowing them to focus on preparing for their next steps instead of worrying about extra debt. More than 70% of Honors College students go on to professional school or graduate study. Corvino’s long-term goal is to build an endowment that would eventually make the Honors College senior year tuition-free, attracting top talent and incentivizing strong performance.
With the funds raised thus far, the Honors College will be able to offer five $1,000 scholarships in winter 2021 to seniors selected for academic achievement and financial need. Some of that money is generated by endowment interest, while some comes from Finish Line “Friends” who provide $1,000 annual gifts to be awarded directly.
Some previous attendees enjoyed the event so much they plan to tune in for the Oct. 29 repeat.
“We know our students are amazing, but it was powerful to see so many of them gathered in one place, talking about their dreams,” said Jennifer Hart, associate professor in Wayne State’s Department of History. “I was particularly inspired by the student speakers who talked about what the Honors College has meant to them. Their connection to community and dedication to making the most of their Wayne State experience reminded me, in the midst of a generally difficult time, what transformational education is all about.”
Louise Smith ‘76, a Chicago-based alumna and longtime supporter of the Honors College, said: “What a thrill to see elders and the younger generation alike on Zoom to the Finish! — and such a fabulous mix of people. Gives me goosebumps. Watch and be inspired.”
Learn more about the Finish Line Fund — or tune in Oct. 29 at 9 p.m. to see encore presentation — at honors.wayne.edu/finishline.