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Students, alums, administrators make 'Promises for Education'

By Dave Jones on September 18, 2013 in University News

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is vying for one of the most popular student jobs on campus — and she can get it with your help. For donations totaling $5,000, to be used to help UC Davis students with their educational expenses, she will be a server for a day at the Coffee House.

It’s one of two promises she has made in UC’s celebrity-studded Promise for Education campaign, which relies in part on people’s social media connections to raise money for grants and scholarships for undergraduate students from California with demonstrated financial need.

“Our promise, as a public research university, has always been to provide the brightest Californians a world-class education at an affordable price,” UC declares on the Promise for Education website. “Now it’s time for your promise.”

More than 100 people had already made promises by the time the six-week campaign officially got under way today (Sept. 18), during the Board of Regents meeting. Promise for Education is the latest addition to the university’s Project You Can, a systemwide effort to raise $1 billion for student support through 2014. To date, the campaign has raised more than $700 million. Read the UCOP news release.

Chancellor Katehi’s second promise, for contributions totaling $10,000: “I will share my Greek culture and favorite cuisine by hosting a VIP Greek Gala … food, festivities and fun from the Hellenic Republic — opa!”

“Help me support UC Davis students,” she wrote on her promise page.

For contributions totaling $1,000, Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine will participate in “Dean vs. Doxie,” in which he will race the winner of the Doxie Derby on Picnic Day. “I will wear a dachshund outfit to make it an interesting race,” he wrote in his promise.


Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx promises to rap like Bill Clinton; Gov. Jerry Brown says he will hold a brown bag lunch for a student from each campus; and Cinthia Flores, the student regent, says she will spend a day dressed up as Superwoman. Read about other promises and watch a video.

Vice Chancellor Adela de la Torre of Student Affairs has promised to don a costume and ride her bicycle in the 100th anniversary Picnic Day Parade. She'll do it in exchange for $1,000 in donations to help UC Davis students.

"If I double my goal, I will change places with a student for a day."

You needn’t be a chancellor or dean or vice chancellor to make a promise. Anyone can join in, and, in setting up your promise, you can designate the campus that will receive the money that your promise generates. You can also skip the promise-making — and donate directly.

Bradley Bottoms, ASUCD vice president, hopes to raise $1,500 for UC Davis, by promising "to wear a cow suit for an entire week."

"That means everything from meeting with the chancellor to going to the gym, to swimming, biking, everything," he wrote on his promise page.

"As a first-generation college student, I am so aware of how important and how much of a privilege it is to receive a higher eductation," wrote Bottoms, who is a fourth-year student with a double major: political science (public service) and sociology (organizational studies).

"Without the quality, affordable public education that the UC provides, students like me would never have this experience," he wrote. "But, unfortunately, due to years of divestment from higher education, the affordability that made this university accessible to all of California's top performing students is being widdled down to those that can pay for the ever increasing fees."

Bottoms cited his role as chair of the ASUCD Scholarship Committee: "This experience has not only illustrated the quality of UC Davis students, but also the tremendous need."

Another student, Alex Bonser, a second-year student in applied physics, has promised "to wear only my Davis shirts for a week (not unusual), except inside out (very unusual)," for donations of $64 to UC Davis scholarships.

Giving up coffee for 44 days

Alumna Darlene Alvarez (1996, international relations and French), who works for the Office of the President, hopes to raise $1,000 for UC Davis, by promising "to give up drinking coffee for 44 days" — the entire run of the Promise for Education campaign.

"Anyone who knows me can tell you that I rely on my daily cup of strong, dark roast coffee to wake up and make it through the day," said Alvarez, a calculations specialist-benefits analyst in the Retirement Administration Service Center.

"When I was a student ... I took out loans, worked part-time jobs during the academic year and worked full time on campus during the summers to pay for my education," Alvarez said by email.

"It was tough, but I made it," she said. "Let's help more UC students make it!"

Another alumna, Heather Kopeck (1999, political science, and rhetoric and communication), who also works for the Office of the President, hopes to raise $250 for her alma mater. In return, she will "treat five UC Davis students to shawarma at a favorite Davis lunch spot.” (Hint: There’s a photo of Sam’s Mediterranean Cuisine on her promise page.)

“It seems like only yesterday I was walking out of class in Olson Hall, along the Quad, past the Social Sciences building and heading into downtown Davis for a quick bite to eat,” wrote Kopeck, who does legislative analysis for UC.

“My time at UC Davis was very special to me,” she wrote. “It is truly a wonderful university and a great community. Help me support UC Davis students by making a tax-deductible contribution.”

Campaign runs until Oct. 31

Promise for Education grants and scholarships will be in addition to what students receive from UC’s traditional financial aid program. In some cases, the money will help middle-income students who would not normally qualify for aid. In other cases, students who may already qualify for some aid will get more.

The campaign runs until Oct. 31: “Only six weeks to support our students and stand behind our premier public university system,” the website states.

Promise for Education is a “crowd-funding” campaign: You make a promise, share it with your connections on social media (every promise page includes Facebook and Twitter buttons), invite donations and ask your connections to share your promise with their connections, and so on and so on. Alternatively, promises can be shared by email (an email button sets up your message; all you have to do is fill in the address or addresses).

Kopeck noted her ulterior motive in putting the Sam’s photo on her promise page: “When I share this on Facebook, a lot of my friends will remember this as the place where we’d go — and hopefully spur them to make donations.”

Follow Promise for Education on Facebook and Twitter.

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Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,