New York woman inspires philanthropy in the senior class at her alma mater - St. Bonaventure University

By Emily Sullivan, '14

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St. Bonaventure alumna Colette Dow

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY (05/21/2012)(readMedia)-- Hoping to inspire a future generation of philanthropists, St. Bonaventure University alumna Colette Dow, '88, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., issued a challenge to the class of 2012: she would match, dollar for dollar, every donation to the senior class gift campaign.

News about the challenge match spread quickly within the graduating class.

"Everyone was stunned by her generosity," said Courtney Cobb, class of 2012 secretary. "It sparked a new level of enthusiasm. Within days, we acquired more than 40 new donors."

Michael Kaplan, class of 2012 president, noted that Ms. Dow's gift added more than financial assistance. "It reinforced my feeling that entrance to the Bonaventure family comes with a lifelong membership. When she threw her hat into the ring, I became excited for a time when maybe I could do the same type of thing in the future," he said.

A total of 110 seniors contributed more than $4,100 to the class gift challenge, with the overall senior class campaign netting approximately $12,000. Funds will be used to renovate the Rathskeller, a popular gathering spot on campus. The renovations will include new paint, wall decorations, flat screen televisions and other upgrades.

"The challenge is my way of trying to instill in future alumni the desire, obligation and sense of responsibility to give back to the university," said Ms. Dow. "I believe our St. Bonaventure experience has given us the tools to succeed - however we each may define success - and in turn we as alumni have a responsibility to support the university. I hope the challenge will raise awareness about the need to give back and help develop future givers."

According to Jaela Agnello, class of 2012 vice president, the challenge achieved that - and more. The challenge match successfully encouraged student participation and also "demonstrated how you gift back as alumni," she said.

Ms. Dow, chief operating officer of The PrinceRidge Group LLC in New York City, earned a bachelor of business administration degree with a major in accounting from St. Bonaventure in 1988. A longtime supporter of and volunteer for the university, she also serves on the Board of Trustees and the School of Business Campaign Steering Committee.

Ms. Dow vividly recalls the moment she transitioned from student to donor.

"I was fresh out of school living in a rather dumpy apartment in Queens," she said. "I remember writing the check and thinking, 'Can I really afford this? I have debts to pay,' but I knew it was the right thing to do. I somehow knew then that I had a debt to repay for my experience at St. Bonaventure. I know now that my time at Bona's laid the foundation for the many blessings our family has experienced since and we will always be indebted to St. Bonaventure."

She has continued to give through the years. Now, she hopes to pass on that tradition.

"I wish the class of 2012 the best of luck," she said. "I think they should be commended for their spirit. We are blessed with a group of new young alumni who already realize how vitally important it is to give back."

To learn more about the senior class gift campaign, interested persons can view a video created by Heather Monahan, '14, and Amanda Koneski, '13,

About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them.