A new class of seniors graduates from Northern Arizona University each semester with a quality education and invaluable experiences.

To encourage graduating seniors to help their fellow Lumberjacks make it through that crucial senior year, NAU is launching an innovative scholarship initiative.

The Senior Class Giving Program, also known as the Senior Class Gift, is in its initial phases of being promoted campuswide. The program encourages seniors to donate to the new NAU Senior Legacy Scholarship. Seniors also have the option of designating their gift to an NAU program or area of their choice.

“This project provides a unique opportunity for graduating seniors to leave a legacy of their time at Northern Arizona University by helping the institution to better fulfill its mission and by helping future generations of NAU students,” said Stephen Riggs, director of the NAU Fund.

Riggs emphasized that students are a big part of the project and the program has its own student committee comprised of various student organization leaders. Committee members help decide the qualifications for the scholarship and promote the program among their peers.

“I realize that universities improve largely from the support and achievements of their alumni,” said Patrick Murphy, senior accounting and finance major and member of the student committee. “NAU has given me a great education and experience during the past four years and I want to give back.”

The program’s current goal is to raise $5,000 toward the scholarship or other NAU programs. A permanent public display in the University Union will recognize seniors who have donated.

The idea of a senior class gift tradition was conceived and enacted by several campus departments, including University Advancement, Student Affairs, University Marketing and the President’s Office, Riggs said.

To help launch the program successfully, President John Haeger will match up to $2,500 in contributions received.

“I think it’s important for students to give back to the university because NAU offers so much to its students,” said Jessica Putnam, international affairs major and junior representative of the student committee. “This program gives NAU students a chance to give back not only to the university, but to their fellow students as well.”

The first scholarships will be dispersed among 2008-09 entering seniors.

For information on the Senior Class Gift and how to donate, visit www.nau.edu/seniorclassgift or call (928) 523-2012.