Friday morning, alumni and their families, along with Southern Illinois University Carbondale adminstration, staff, faculty, and students, gathered around Shryock Auditorium to celebrate the alumni Facebook group, "Carbondale in the 80's and 90's," for giving the most gifts for an non-academic unit and endowing two new scholarships.
The facebook group donated $50,000 during and after this year's Day of Giving. Donations continue to increase.
Interim Chancellor John Dunn presented the group a trophy and his gratitude for their fundrasing efforts.
"In the history of human kind, the really great people — the Mother Theresas, the Albert Schweitzers — have always reminded us that true happiness can only be obtained through giving," Dunn said. "You represent that in spades, and I'm very very proud of you. Thank you."
The alumni facebook group was started by Craig Wilson for former Carbondale residents to share their experiences from the area during the 80's and 90's.
Wilson didn't expect the group to grow up to nearly 15,000 members, alumnus Dan Giedeman said. Giedeman thanked Wilson, who wasn't present, for creating the group which has become a space for people to share their memories, experiences, and to reconnect with old friends.
Giedeman is the alumnus who came up with the idea for group members to donate money to their alma mater.
Jim Raffensperger, who created the name of the BEER Scholarship, said alumni came to the university for the education but left with memorable experiences, life long friends, and sometimes their soulmates.
"We're all back because we came to love SIU," Raffensperger said.
As well as raising funds for the university, Giedeman and Raffensperger said the Facebook group created a space for alumni to find opportunities to support current students with mentors and internships. The group also encourages former students to finish their degrees at the university.