Parent Support Prompts Significant Challenge Gift

Photo of Glynna Walker with son Nigel
Glynna Walker—shown with her son, Nigel, a sophomore in the School of Engineering, and their dog, Ziggy—has honored Nigel with her gift to Vanderbilt. (KAY HINTON)


Parents showed support for their Vanderbilt students like never before in the 2014 academic year, and as a result, a single challenge gift of $200,000 benefited multiple academic and student-life programs across the university.

An anonymous parent donor guaranteed the pledge if 3,000 fellow parents made a contribution of any size to any area of Vanderbilt before June 30, 2014. As it turns out, 3,428 parents made gifts totaling more than $18.8 million, which surpassed the challenge goal and represented an increase in participation of 25 percent over the previous year.

The resulting challenge gift was divided evenly among the College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, School of Engineering, Peabody College, and the Undergraduate Experience program. Gifts were designated for the annual fund of each area, allowing their respective leaders to allocate the funds immediately in support of their particular missions.

“Support at all levels allows us to provide scholarships, expand curricula, offer new programs, and create growth opportunities for our students through new and innovative partnerships, both on our campus and with other universities,” says John Sloop, professor of communication studies and interim dean of the College of Arts and Science.

Parent Glynna Walker of Atlanta made her gift to honor the Vanderbilt experience of her son, Nigel. She hopes doing so will set an example for him to follow in the future.

“He is greatly benefiting not only from an awesome engineering education, but from a great life experience,” says Walker. “I encourage him to pay it forward when he graduates so another worthy student will benefit from the greatness of Vanderbilt.”