“Power Up” Fundraising Campaign Supports Computer Science Opportunities for Allegheny College Students

Founded in 1979, the Department of Computer Science at Allegheny College has been around for more than four decades and is still looking for ways to innovate. Thanks to the success of their inaugural fundraising campaign and the alumni who supported it, the department will be able to strengthen opportunities for current and incoming students to become leaders in the field.

Setting out with an initial goal of $10,000, the campaign ended with a grand total of $16,155 donated. These funds will allow students and faculty to work together to create, release, and maintain open-source software for course platforms, which will be used for instructional purposes in computer science classes. The funds will also allow the department to continue their laptop lending program, making computer science classes more accessible to the diverse group of students who wish to enroll.

Students working at computers

When the computer science department launched the campaign, the first of its kind at Allegheny, they weren’t sure what to expect. Wanting alumni to engage more in fundraising efforts, the campaign provided an opportunity for donors to support specific departmental projects directly.

Fundraising such as this is a piece of a bigger vision for strengthening student experiences and outcomes within the Computer Science Department through the creation of the Allegheny College Computer Science Department Technical Advisory Board (TAB). A self-governing, self-perpetuating body currently drawn from computer science alumni, TAB works on fulfilling its goal by engaging with students and alumni, advising on curriculum, and fundraising. In partnership with the Institutional Advancement Office, this year’s departmental fundraiser was the first effort that the department and TAB took on together.

Associate Professor of Computer Science Janyl Jumadinova says she is grateful for the alumni who supported the campaign.

“We learned a lot from this experience, and with the feedback we received from this fundraiser, we hope to have an even more successful fundraiser next year and every year after that,” says Jumadinova. “Beyond the funds that we received, we are happy with the excitement this campaign generated, giving us an opportunity to share some of the department’s innovative initiatives.”

With a fundraising theme of “powering up” ongoing initiatives, three areas were identified for additional support, including software development projects; equipment and hardware; and open access curriculum. Computer science faculty members collaborated with students to create informative, fun videos to keep the excitement of the campaign going. 

TAB members, including inaugural president Jennifer Haddox-Schatz ’00, conducted continuous outreach to their Allegheny alumni networks. Beyond donations, alumni committed to mentoring and advising students. 

“My time at Allegheny taught me the importance of giving back to one’s community,” Haddox-Schatz says. “So it is an honor and privilege to be able to serve in this role and support one of the best communities of which I’ve ever been a member: Allegheny’s Computer Science Department.”  

Ahmad Douglas ’02, who offered matching challenge funds for the campaign along with Haddox-Schatz, addresses the importance of supporting programs like computer science.

What STEM needs at this juncture is more creativity, more humanity, more ethics, and more servant leadership,” Douglas says. “Alleghenians, through their liberal arts studies and the school’s unique culture, are well prepared to fill these needs.”