Professors raise over $4,000 for students with #Panther Promise

Dr. John Hurd loved hiking and used to take annual trips to the Smoky Mountains. He is shown here on a 2004 trip standing on Silers Bald on the Appalachian Trail with his students: Anthony Zukoff  ’04, Angela Fadden Gray ’06, Kathy Randall Bryant ’05, Larcie Lyle Richardson ’04, Heidi Hendricker Hamilton ’06 and Jennifer Szafnicki ’05.

Professors raise over $4,000 for students with #PantherPromise

June 9, 2014

From New York to Dallas, from Los Angeles to Taipei, alumni rallied behind their professors through #PantherPromise, a social media campaign this past week that raised $4,335 to support LaGrange College students and boosted alumni giving participation.

Five professors with a collective 105 years of teaching at LaGrange College—Kim Barber Knoll, Dr. Joe Cafaro, Dr. William Paschal and Dr. Jack Slay—each made an inspiring video message to alumni explaining that if at least 35 alumni "vote" for them by making an online gift to support LaGrange College students, he or she would carry out an individual promise.

#PantherPromise garnered 118 gifts with 104 unique donors.  Dr. Paschal led his colleagues in the good-natured race to secure gifts, coming out on top with 45. He was followed by Dr. Rosencrants, 20; Dr. Slay, 19; Dr. Cafaro, 18; and Professor Barber Knoll, 17. Barber Knoll was close behind Dr. Paschal with the highest total in contributions.

Dr. Paschal's message promised that if he could receive a minimum of 35 gifts, he would organize a hike on the Pine Mountain Trail to honor the memory of his good friend and fellow biology professor Dr. John Hurd.

"It really touched my heart to see how many responses we received to honor John," Dr. Paschal said. "It also was touching and fun to reconnect with so many former students on Facebook and email. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, and it's made me feel good to keep his memory alive."

Dr. Paschal said he will announce the details of the hike once they are finalized and already has begun collecting written stories to share about Dr. Hurd the day of the hike. He plans to invite everyone who made a gift and welcomes anyone who would like to join them. Afterwards the hikers will share lunch or dinner and swap stories about Dr. Hurd.

Alumni began spreading the news online quickly on May 27, the day of the #PantherPromise debut as they viewed videos of each of the professors' promises.

Barber Knoll promised to produce and direct "An Evening with LC Alumni" on the Price Theater stage in January to give alumni the chance to perform in the newly renovated theater. Dr. Cafaro vowed to ride his bicycle 95 miles across the entire Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trails from Smyrna, Ga., to Anniston, Ala.

Dr. Rosencrants made the promise to donate at least eight inches of her hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, which provides wigs for breast cancer patients. Dr. Slay promised to write a play about several students who wander into Price Theater late at night and swap ghost stories about LaGrange College.

Trevor Lane '13, a LaGrange College Fund Officer, said the alumni engagement during the weeklong campaign has been inspiring.

"All the professors' videos and their interaction online really got our alumni excited about being a part of the Panther Promise," he says. "Alumni we haven't heard from in several years were sharing stories about how much their professors and LaGrange College have played such a part in who they are today.

"The college is so grateful to everyone who made a gift and to everyone who shared the news about the Panther Promise online. We hope everyone will welcome it again next year. Of course we'll be changing it up a little, because we loved building an element of surprise with this first social media campaign."


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