Despite the difficult economy and tough job market, the MBA Class of 2003 raised $470,539 for their class gift–the highest amount ever raised by a graduating class. Ninety-eight percent of the class of 757 students participated in raising money for the gift.

Associate Dean of External Affairs Steven Oliveira stated, “The Class of 2003 has set a remarkable new standard for future generations of Wharton students and alumni. Ninety-eight-percent participation is a stunning achievement at any time, but it is even more significant during an economically challenging time. No school of our size has achieved this level of participation.”

The class gift is unrestricted and goes toward the Wharton Fund. The Wharton Fund provides resources to fund high-priority initiatives of the School: it helps invigorate the School’s innovations in academic programs and student services; it builds competitiveness in attracting the best students and faculty; and it provides the flexibility to pursue new opportunities at the moment they appear. The Wharton Fund also helps to bridge the gap between the actual cost of educating an MBA student at Wharton and the income generated from tuition and endowment.

Each year, the School invites an alumnus or alumna to participate in the class gift campaign by providing a challenge gift that gives students additional incentive to donate to the campaign. This year, an anonymous donor agreed to be the challenge donor, giving $75,000 to the campaign. The challenge gift was structured on the basis of participation—the more students that pledged, the more money that the campaign received.

Motivating further participation was the theme of this year’s class gift, which strived to capture the cultural diversity represented at Wharton. The theme was: “757 Individuals, 59 Countries, 1 Gift.” Students from 50 countries spanning the world reached 100 percent participation.

Corinne Chao, WG’03, and Katie Mensch, WG’03, co-chairs of the 2003 MBA Class Gift Committee, wrote in a recent letter to their class: “We graduate this month into a world where the business climate is challenging, where many, many of our classmates don’t have jobs. Despite this–because of this–we gave. We gave because we know the impact that Wharton is going to have on the rest of our lives, in good economic times and in bad. We gave because we are in this for the long haul. We are invested, literally and figuratively, in making Wharton a better place so our graduates can go out, like you, and make their mark in their communities around the world. We gave because we just don’t say we are a community of leaders here at the School, we step up and dare to be counted.”