President's Blog

Giving Back!

Sweet Briar is for some of us an alma mater and for some of us an employer and for some of us a neighbor. It’s also a mission-centered not-for-profit organization to which many of us provide voluntary support.

3rd Floor Fletcher getting a fresh coat of paint

I was thinking a great deal about the ways many people give back to Sweet Briar over the last day or so. Last night was the kickoff event for the Senior Class Campaign. Now, I always attend this event and always enjoy it, but last night was special to me — because the class of 2013 is the first class I welcomed to Sweet Briar as President. Their freshman year was my freshman year and now we are seniors together. . .

2013’s campaign theme is “Reasons for Giving.” Here’s an excerpt from my remarks:

“When I started thinking about what I would say to you this evening, the first thing that occurred to me is that my reasons for giving, paradoxically, have very little to do with reason. I know all the facts and figures about the importance of philanthropy to Sweet Briar, I can explain the logic of private support for higher education, and I can rationally trace the causal connections between gifts and institutional excellence.

But reasonable as all that is, it isn’t really my reason for giving. My reasons for giving are love and faith, and I think I’m pretty typical. People give to what they love and what they believe in.”

Of course, I went on to talk about all the things I love about Sweet Briar and my belief in the power of educated women to make lives better for themselves, their families, their communities, and their professions. Clearly the senior class shares my love for, and faith in, Sweet Briar — the amount of money they raised last night was truly impressive!

Then, today was “Sweet Day of Service.”

Pink and Green at the Post Office

Some of you may remember the long-ago tradition of Patchwork Days. Sweet Day of Service is a return to the idea that those who wish to volunteer can spend a morning painting, scraping, cleaning, raking, planting, and generally sprucing the campus up for a morning. Members of the classes of ’15 and ’16 were painting the post office lobby; Bum Chums were scraping and painting railings; English majors painted the third floor of Fletcher an elegant taupe; and lots of people joined forces to give the second floor of Guion a blue and beige theme. Others cleared and blazed walking trails, stained the bandstand, and painted doors.

About 200 people volunteered to work for about 4 hours: that’s 800 hours, or 20 full work weeks, of time donated to the College.

Blue and beige for 2nd Floor Guion


This year, we made Sweet Day of Service a part of our Founder’s Day celebrations. In just a few minutes now, I will go over to the Chapel for the annual service commemorating the generosity and vision of our Founders. It is especially rewarding to do that having spent the morning helping make sure that all that they left us is lovingly and gratefully maintained.

Holla holla to all those who pitch in!

One Response to 'Giving Back!'

  1. Rosie Lewis says:

    I “ditto” President Parker’s sentiments, and add that giving and volunteering are healthy habits that benefit those that receive but also those that are giving. The act of giving takes us, for a few short moments, away from the self,the day to day routines and sometimes dreaded activities, and opens our minds and hearts to others. Giving has rippling physiological benefits like raising levels of neurotransmitters like Serotonin, Dopamine and Norepinephrine) (I call them the 3 sisters: sera, dopa and nore) that make us happier and even pain free! I overheard several students chatting as they methodically rolled the blue paint on the wall of second floor Guion “this has helped my stress; maybe we should do this right before every exam.” Experiencing first hand the benefits of giving is highly recommended.

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