LionPath implementation to bring change to Penn State’s Class Gift program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Project LionPath, Penn State’s multi-year initiative to replace its student information management system, also will bring changes to the University’s Class Gift program.

Penn State began implementing LionPath in the fall of 2015. LionPath will manage records for Penn State’s students at 23 campus locations (excluding the Pennsylvania College of Technology) and the Penn State World Campus, replacing the University’s former system, ISIS (Integrated Student Information System). Roll-out of the new LionPath system began in the fall of 2015 and is proceeding in stages, with full integration estimated by the end of 2016.

A part of the change that will affect the Class Gift program will be a difference in how the University manages the general deposit, money paid by all students upon admission to Penn State and held until graduation.

“When a potential student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State, they make an advance payment to hold their place, which is kept in their student account,” said University Bursar Roseann Sieminski. “Upon graduation, or leaving the University, this deposit is currently released back to them. The general deposit is meant to offset any outstanding fees which might affect their graduation status.”

After July 2016 under LionPath, however, that will no longer be the case because of changes in the way the University will manage financial transactions: The deposit will still be collected, but will then be applied toward the student’s first tuition payment. This change, among other improvements, will align Penn State with how the majority of universities handle these transactions.

How will this affect the Class Gift program? Instead of having the deposit returned to them when they graduate, many seniors have chosen in the past to have all or part of it donated directly to their class gift or to another college, campus, program or organization of their choice. The new procedure means that the deposit will no longer be available to donate, since it will have already been applied to the tuition payment.

Up until now, the majority of the funding for the class gift has come from students making this kind of donation, according to Geoff Hallett, class gift adviser and assistant director in Penn State’s Office of Annual Giving. 

“Next year’s seniors who wish to make a gift will need to do so more tangibly,” he added. “This will bring about some changes to the program, because traditionally, simply donating one’s general deposit has required less personal investment for many. Now, Penn State and the Class Gift Campaign program will need to encourage students to make a choice for how they want to use the resources they have at hand to make the greatest impact.”

Ramon Guzman Jr., 2016 Class Gift Campaign executive director and a senior in education, sees this as an opportunity for the future of the program.

“What this really means is that we’ll need to change the way we think about class gifts, to talk about a different kind of class gift,” said Guzman. “Perhaps that means less focus on physical gifts and more focus on new programs and student support. In a way, our class [of 2016] has already started exploring this path with the endowment to support Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).”

Sis-Obed Torres, 2017 Class Gift Campaign executive director and a junior in political science, agrees. “This is an opportunity to be creative, to build relationships with others across the University, to make a difference, to explore what it means to leave a legacy — both collectively and as individuals,” he said. “I’m confident that Penn State students will rise to the challenge.”

Penn State’s class gift tradition began when graduates of the class of 1861, at their 1890 reunion, gave the University a portrait of Penn State’s first president, Evan Pugh, which still hangs in the lobby of Old Main.

"The mission of the Class Gift Campaign program has always been to promote the philanthropic spirit among our seniors and encourage them to support the aspects of Penn State that have made their time here meaningful,” said Rod Kirsch, senior vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “The implementation of a new student management system provides a great opportunity for our students to foster a new culture of philanthropy where a student gives to support the student following in their footsteps.”

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Last Updated March 21, 2016