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Craig Kapitan, News Service (650) 724-5708;

New tactic employed in promoting undergraduate education

Soon the people behind the Campaign for Undergraduate Education (CUE), the largest fundraising push ever devoted exclusively to undergraduate education, won't just be telling potential donors how their money could be used -- they'll be showing them.

Five undergraduates have volunteered to keep online journals, chronicling their progress throughout the quarter as they take part in programs that directly benefit from CUE, such as Overseas Studies and Sophomore College.

Stanford officials launched CUE last October. With four years still left to reach the $1 billion goal, the drive so far has resulted in donations of approximately $640 million. The newest innovation of the campaign will be unveiled Sept. 10 at the CUE website,

"We really wanted to show people who the beneficiaries of their gifts are," said Becky Smith, director of stewardship and communications in the Office of Development. "This allows alumni to look at the new programs and see how successful and meaningful they are to the students."

If the online journals turn out to be a success, the project could become a series, as new students in varying programs are recruited each quarter.

"I'll probably just write about classes, people I meet, places I go and maybe try to add some humor," said student volunteer Renee Reyna, 20, a junior majoring in American studies and Latin American studies who will participate in the university's Overseas Studies Program this year.

For the students, the journals will not be scripted or include fundraising appeals -- they will serve as background information to help potential donors get a feel for the student experience.

"The trip is going to be a whole new adventure," Reyna said of the fall and winter quarters she will spend in Chile working to improve her Spanish as she studies at Stanford's overseas campus in Santiago. "I'm just hoping to use the journal to catalog it."

Chile is one of nine locations students can chose to go as part of the Overseas Studies Program. Reyna will be one of approximately 400 students who will take advantage of the program this year, studying in places such as Berlin, Paris and Moscow.

"It sounded like a good thing," Reyna said of her decision to volunteer, explaining that she also was a recipient of financial aid from the Stanford Fund last year. The Stanford Fund, which provides need-based scholarships for students, as well as seed funding for curriculum and teaching innovations, is another program that stands to benefit from the campaign.

Although she's not sure how many strangers actually will be interested in her experience, at the very least Reyna believes the journal will serve as a good way to let friends and family know how she is doing.

But more people may end up tuning in than the students think.

Thousands of postcards announcing the online journals should hit mailboxes of alumni and parents of current students sometime this week.

And according to Trish Jackson, vice president of education at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a Washington, D.C.-based education association with more than 3,000 institutional members, staff at other colleges currently conducting fundraising campaigns might want to pay attention as well.

As far as she can tell, this strategy for raising awareness of student life has never been used in a major campaign before.

"I really think this sounds like something other institutions can learn from," she said, explaining that an important selling point for these campaigns is the ability to relay the benefits of today's undergraduate experience. "This gives all constituents -- especially alumni -- that opportunity."


By Craig Kapitan

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