Alumni & Donors

Alumni Celebrate 145 Years of Stevens History With Record Fundraising Campaign

With plenty of help from Stevens alumni, Attila the Duck went on a long swim. Keeping the mascot virtually afloat was the theme of one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in Stevens history.

From June 6 through June 12, Stevens alumni donated to the “Attila’s Journey Challenge,” a call to make a financial gift during a 145-hour period commemorating the 145 years since Stevens was founded in 1870. Alumni responded with enthusiasm, finishing with 870 gifts for a total of $125,319.28.

Each time they donated through a special website, alumni gave Attila an hour and 45 minutes of virtual swim time in the Hudson River. With enough alumni in other time zones clicking the "give" button at the right time, Attila stayed afloat during the entire challenge.

The Class of 2014 was the most generous class “flock,” making 71 donations for a total of $2,214.85. The most generous Greek flock was Sigma Nu, which raised $9,095 from 198 gifts. Alumni had the option of giving to the general Stevens Fund as well as to dedicated funds for scholarships, athletics and other interests such as the Solar Decathlon.

Several prominent alumni served as leaders for the challenge, including trustees Frank Semcer ’65, Scott Swensen ’74, Lawrence Babbio, Jr. ’66 and Lisa Mascolo ’82 and Dianne ’90 and Jim ’89 Szipszky, who emailed calls to action each morning. Together they are joining with Stevens President Nariman Farvardin, Mrs. Hoveida Farvardin and likely several other distinguished donors in creating a fund that will match all the challenge donations between $25 and $500 at a one-to-one ratio.

At certain points alumni unlocked “quacking achievements,” fun graphics that celebrated Stevens history and accomplishments. For example, after three gifts the graphic celebrating Stevens’ third-place national ranking for return on investment became visible on the website. Other graphics celebrated the Class of 1965, the 112 alumni in the Stevens Athletics Hall of Fame, 380 faculty members, and the number 630 to recognize the fiscal year ending on June 30 and the university’s push for a record alumni giving rate of 18 percent.

“The percentage of alumni who donate during a fiscal year is an important number, because experts consider it when they determine national rankings,” said Melissa Fuest, director of annual giving and interim executive director of the Stevens Alumni Office. “The university looks stronger when more alumni show their commitment by making a gift, and this year 18 percent would be an eye-catching number.”

The challenge came near the end of what is looking to be the most prosperous fundraising year in Stevens history, an important mark as the university aims to fulfill its ten-year strategic plan for adding enrollment, recruiting elite faculty and building advanced facilities. While the challenge has been completed, alumni can continue to donate through the main Stevens website at

“This success, including the philanthropic support as well as the engagement of our alumni, is one that will position us for even greater achievements in the years to come,” President Farvardin said. “With this type of engagement, I have no doubt that we can meet any challenge.”